In a world in which internet companies have stated that video rental and video advertising models are critical their futures, there is Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube and then there is everyone else — at least based on size. Data from comScore for March shows that YouTube had 155.6 million unique viewers, out of a national total for all sites of 187.8 million. The measure covers desktop users only. YouTube’s advantage grows based on minutes per viewers per month at 294. Most other sites have a tiny fraction of that.
The irony of YouTube’s audience advantage is that Google’s financial results have not indicated that the huge video site has contributed much to its sales at all. All those hundreds of users, and no money to show for them
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and the portals each have relatively large video audiences to work with, even if they are overshadowed by YouTube. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) has started to roll out several television initiatives, led by Katie Kouric who built a powerful brand as a television news person and interviewer. Video has begun to pop up all over Yahoo!, supported by advertising.
Tim Armstrong of AOL (NYSE: AOL) has some advantages over his larger portal rivals — Yahoo! and MSN. AOL had 69.4 million unique video viewers in March compared to 55.7 million at Yahoo!. While these figures are huge, none of the three portals has shown that video advertising can sharply boost its sales results.
YouTube also has a larger video audience than Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) which has made paid premium video a core part of its business model. Like many other companies which claim large video audiences, Amazon does not disclose any numbers
YouTube is one of those strange businesses in which a large lead in size compared to competitors does not help it.
Some additional data from the comScore survey
- 85.9% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online videos.
- The duration of the average online content video was 4.3 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
- Video ads accounted for 38.1% of all videos viewed and 5.1 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.
Oddly, YouTube has not pressed hard into the paid video subscriber business either. This leaves investors to question why Google would let such a tremendous asset flounder. Whatever the reason, it has given smaller competitors as an advantage they might not have otherwise.