YouTube Crushes Online Video Competitors (GOOG, NFLX, YHOO, VIA, AOL, MSFT, CMCSA, NWS, DIS, TWX)

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Not only is Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) the 600-pound gorilla in the search business, the company’s YouTube streaming video service holds a similar position in the streaming video business. According to the latest survey from comScore Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), YouTube users viewed 16.7 billion videos in February, more than 10x the number of videos viewed by its nearest competitor, Hulu, a joint venture owned by News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), and Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA). All told, viewers watched nearly 38 billion videos last month. Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is not included in the survey because it doesn’t offer free content.

Measured by minutes per viewer, YouTube users spent nearly 7 hours (418 minutes) watching videos, more than twice as many as Hulu viewers who spent 226 minutes in front of the screen. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) claimed third place with 67 minutes of user viewing. Other online video content providers included in the survey were Vevo, Facebook, Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA), Aol Inc. (NYSE: AOL), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Comcast’s NBC Universal, and Turner Digital, a division of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX).

Interestingly, Google trails every other service in advertising minutes, with just 119 million minutes of total time. Hulu’s ad minutes total 650 million. In total ads viewed, however, the two are much closer: Hulu users viewed about 1.6 billion ads and Google users saw about 1.1 billion ads.

As Google continues to search for ways to monetize its huge video audience the company needs to balance its vast number of viewers with more advertising that won’t drive users away. That may not be as simple to do as it sounds.

Paul Ausick