For all the discussion about the bright future of online video advertising and subscriber-based premium video delivered over the Internet, Google Inc. (GOOG) property YouTube towers over all other video sites. And the difference in size between its audience and any other is extraordinary. However, Google brings in so little revenue from the property that it begs the question of how rich the online video markets really are.
According to comScore data for April, 186.1 million Americans watched online video content during the month. Broken down by property:
Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in April with 155.7 million unique viewers. Facebook ranked #2 with 87 million viewers, followed by AOL, Inc. with 65.3 million, Yahoo Sites with 52.2 million and NDN with 45 million.
Based on Facebook Inc.'s (FB) quarterly earnings statements, video does not play a meaningful role in its revenue composition either.
If video advertising, for which marketers pay a premium over display ads, is critical to any set of Internet properties it is the three portals: AOL Inc. (AOL), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) MSN. Revenue at these sites has been flat for several years. Video advertising, with its promise of high prices like those paid to television networks, might spark some growth. At this time, the proof that has worked is terribly thin.
The same lack of significant video contribution to revenue also applies to Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and its large online streaming business. Although Amazon had 32.6 million unique video viewers in April, its earnings releases do not boast that this business is even a modest part of its sales.
While YouTube carries both advertising and has a premium video streaming business, Google's first-quarter sales comments were almost exclusively about "paid clicks" and "cost per click," the hearts of search advertising. Of its total revenue, 90% was from search advertising, both on its own site and partner properties.
More than 186 million Americans watched online video in April, but the properties that control most of this activity have very little to show for it as measured by revenue.
comScore's comment on research: A video is defined as any streamed segment of audiovisual content, including both progressive downloads and live streams. For long-form, segmented content, (e.g., television episodes with ad pods in the middle) each segment of the content is counted as a distinct video stream. Video views are inclusive of both user-initiated and auto-played videos that are viewed for longer than three seconds.
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Top U.S. Online Video* Content Properties Ranked by Unique Video Viewers
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Content Videos Only (Ad Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix Property Total Unique Viewers (000) Total Internet : Total Audience 186,058 Google Sites 155,715 Facebook 87,005 AOL 65,335 Yahoo! Sites 52,164 NDN 44,973 VEVO 37,944 AnyClip Media 36,331 Vimeo 35,853 Microsoft Sites 35,132 Amazon Sites 32,559