Digital Video Hype: Yes, Online Is Growing Fast, But Has A Long Way To Go

One of the things that fascinates me about online video is that there is an unspoken imperative to get on with it, and likewise a kind of corporate agreement to dismantle the established order old media once represented.

It would seem subversive if it wasn’t so business-oriented.

Last night, for example, the most celebrated moment of the Oscars telecast—besides the moment that bloated evening ended—was when Ellen DeGeneres orchestrated the famous selfie of Hollywood swells, which also was another of several commercials for Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone during the ceremony.

DeGeneres accomplished her drive to create the most retweeted selfie in history, which happened in about a half hour. Thus, proving the awesomeness of digital social media!

The fact that television or printed news material actually exists is sometimes treated like a condition a benevolent digital native population is just putting up with. Reviewing the debut of Jimmy Fallon as the new host of  the “Tonight” show, The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley wrote that the program is:



 “….in good hands, but its longevity rests less on the host than on audiences who increasingly don’t turn on a television to watch television. Mr. Fallon intimated as much when he recalled begging his parents to let him stay up late to watch Johnny Carson. He got a little emotional when he added that he hoped there was ‘a kid out there asking their parents to stay up to watch me.’ ”

Ridiculous thought. “Maybe,” she reported.  “But that kid can watch ‘Tonight’ on his iPhone on the school bus the next day. And unlike Mr. Fallon, he isn’t likely to grow up aspiring to host the “Tonight” show, any more than he will get his news from a paper edition of The New York Times.”

Even old media wants to rid itself. . . of itself.

A few weeks ago on, Steven Rosenbaum, self-described serial entrepreneur who was behind, wrote the delicately-titled “Why Television Is Dead,” and pointed to that well-reported eMarketer estimate that U.S. digital video ad spending will grow from $4.14 billion this year $8.04 billion before the next president in inaugurated.

Already, he wrote, “The jump we’re about to experience, from 2013 to 2014 media dollars, represents mainstream media buyers pointing a firehose of new money at the emerging Web video creation market.”

Well, of course, DeGeneres and Stanley and Rosenbaum are all correct, to one degree or another. No one would argue over most of that. But you shouldn’t be surprised that most people or advertisers out there are not totally wrapped up on online video, and from what it appears, they won’t be for many, many years.

Adweek reports, basically, that television is huge, and digital video is at best, just bigger than it used to be. Quoting from a study by Simulmedia, Adweek writes that “there are 283 million television viewers monthly (the population of the United States is 313 million), each watching an average of 146 hours of TV. Compare that with 155 million online video viewers averaging just shy of six hours monthly on mobile and almost six and a half hours over the Web. So while TV’s audience is still almost twice that of digital video, the amount of money in digital isn’t even 5% of the mammoth $74 billion chunk of change in television.”

Even with coming improvements in Nielsen’s measurements of digital TV, this story by Sam Thielman posits that television’s sky is not falling, or anywhere near it. In other words, calm down. Take a photo of yourself, why don't you?

3 comments about "Digital Video Hype: Yes, Online Is Growing Fast, But Has A Long Way To Go ".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, March 3, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.

    Digital video simply isn't showing the ability to move people. It is possible to put out a video. And if you invest enough money in seeding it, it will get watched. But, the numbers aren't there in any kind of interesting impact. And let's talk about Ellen's tweet. Yes...biggest in history. And it was driven by the equivalent of about $1M in TV advertising. So it wasn't free by any means. And reflects the truth about digital video - it works best when traditional media drives viewership.

  2. Gian Fulgoni from 4490 Ventures, March 3, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.

    Here's a stat that puts it into context: Time spent watching digital video is equivalent to only 5% of time spent watching TV

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, March 4, 2014 at 6:23 a.m.

    Thanks Gian. You saved me from looking it up.

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