The argument that Hulu can become a company which can be valued in the billions of dollars or that portals can completely change, for the positive, the value of ad dollars they receive because of video marketing messages, are both severely undercut by the lead that Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube has over any “competitors”.
No one need look any further than the April Comscore video audience rating data for April.
Comscore reports that 37 billion videos were watched online during the month. Over 17 billion of those were watched on Google sites, which is essentially a measurement of YouTube. Google sites has 158 million unique viewers of video over the course of the month, compared to the overall national total of 181 million. The next closest sites were Yahoo!’s (NYSE: YHOO) with 53 million unique visitors–a third of Google’s. Among the other portals, AOL (NYSE: AOL) had 38 million, and Microsoft sites (NASDAQ: MSFT) 43 million. Among traditional media companies Viacom (NYSE: VIA-B) with 41 million was the top of its category.
The data tells two things. First, YouTube barely contributes revenue to Google’s sales. Despite the fact that much of the content on YouTube is posted by amateurs, the site has build a large inventory of premium content and a video rental business. This still has shown very little in results. The second point which is closely related to the first, is that neither YouTube’s video ad revenue or rental revenue is significant. This is discouraging news for those companies which believe that either VOD or video ads will radically change their fortunes.
YouTube continues to be the marker for the size of the US online video market. It is very likely to be the marker for revenue as well.
Douglas A. McIntyre