Anywhere you looked online Thursday morning, you could see some reference to the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Particularly on news publisher sites, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, there were endless opportunities to stream the hearing live on any device.
While TV viewership was strong, the preliminary numbers on YouTube point to an additional focus on digital video from traditional news publishers. For example, by around 11:30 a.m., about 90 minutes into Comey’s testimony, The Washington Post’s YouTube stream had roughly 155,000 viewers tuned in.
NBC News’ YouTube stream clocked in at 118,000 viewers at the same time, while CBS’ stream had 125,000.
With these numbers, the trend is clear: Digital video is quickly taking a more central role in our content consumption habits, whether news or entertainment.
Michael Downing, CEO and founder of digital video distribution platform Tout, calls this the “TV-ification of the Web.”
“Publishers that focus on text-based content are finding it harder to keep up and stay relevant as the Internet increasingly becomes a TV-like experience,” Downing told Digital News Daily.
Tout worked with more than 1,000 sites to serve video of the Comey testimony online, including Salon, International Journal Review, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. Preliminary numbers point to between 1.7 and 1.9 million unique viewers that watched the testimony online on a stream served by Tout.
"PBS NewsHour" had 98,000 viewers on its Comey YouTube stream at around 11:30 a.m. The New York Times’ stream topped out at 87,000, while Vox had 75,000.
Even the UK-based Sky News had 16,000 people watching its stream on YouTube.
The Alex Jones Channel -- the YouTube channel of theconspiracy-prone conservative radio show host -- had 18,000 viewers.
On Facebook, the BBC’s live stream reached 965,000 total viewers by the end of the hearing; The New York Times had 810,000 through the platform.
Video is playing an increasingly central role in online content; eMarketer forecasts U.S. digital video ad spending to earn double-digit growth annually through 2020, hitting $17 billion.