Special Report

The Most Popular Video Sites in America

Paul Ausick, Douglas A. McIntyre

Online video has radically changed the way Americans consume media. People want to watch when it is convenient for them, not when network programmers want them to. The industry’s term for it is “video everywhere” — from the largest plasma screens to the smallest smartphones. And while online video is ubiquitous, only a small number of companies dominate this new world.

Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) sites, led by YouTube, accounted for nearly 88% of the 189 million unique U.S. viewers registered by video sites in September. The video behemoth was more than twice as large as Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), the second largest site. YouTube, in effect, defines the entire industry.

Click here to see what video sites have the most viewers

YouTube has such a vast audience partly because it was among the first to offer a comprehensive platform for online video posting, viewing and sharing. Those early (and largely amateur) videos have been joined by polished, professional ones that have attracted a much wider audience, both to YouTube and a growing number of online video sites. The content that these consumers view ranges from short clips to full-length movies available to rent or own. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Hulu are examples of the full-length video option.

YouTube’s model will be nearly impossible for any competitor to duplicate. The company owns its own advertising network and has begun its own paid video subscription service. The site is also the leading music video publisher as a result of its VEVO channel. The site is also well positioned in the video everywhere world. According to the company, mobile makes up nearly 40% of YouTube’s total number of video streams.

Portal companies like Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) are trying to overcome collapsing revenues for display advertising. Their latest business model aims to appeal to marketers who use video ads. These video ads can command 10 times more revenue than display ads. Online publishers and advertisers both benefit from the fact that commercials frequently already have been created for broadcast and cable TV.

24/7 Wall St. examined the top 10 video sites in America based on comScore’s September 2013 report, “September 2013 U.S. Online Video Rankings.” According to comScore, a video is defined as “any streamed segment of audiovisual content, including both progressive downloads and live streams.” For long-form content (e.g., television episodes with ad pods in the middle), each segment is counted as a distinct video stream. Video views include both user-initiated and auto-played videos that are viewed for longer than three seconds.

These are the most popular video sites in America.