State of the Media 2011: Offline vs. Online Viewing

January 25, 2012

online video, youtube, tv

Recently, Nielsen released its annual ‘State of the Media’ report, which looked at how people in the U.S. watch video programs offline and online.  It found that for 288 million people, traditional TV is how they consume video - compared to 143 million people - who watch video programs on their home or work computers.  

The study also found that Americans spend an average of 32 hours per week watching television compared to an average of 27 minutes watching online video.  So for all the video people are watching on the Internet, it’s just a fraction of how much they watch on TV in terms of time spent. 

TechCrunch writer Erik Schofeld took a look at some of the big players in online video. The top five video sites by unique visitors are YouTube, Vevo, Yahoo, Facebook and MSN. But the top 5 video sites by time spent are Netflix, YouTube, Tudou, Hulu and Megavideo.
Despite an awful year of publicity, Netflix is still far and away the leader when it comes to time spent watching online video - with 10 hours a month.  By contrast, the average user on YouTube only spends about 3 hours per month watching videos.

But in terms of unique visitors, YouTube holds a sizable advantage - with 126 million unique viewers and Vevo, a distant second, at 39 million. 

YouTube has taken note of these findings and is working to address the issue of user engagement.  An article in The Telegraph explains that YouTube is expecting to boost user engagement through increased partnerships with content providers and by being available on an increasing amount of connected devices. 

Content partnerships help “lure people away from the content owners' sites and catch up on programmes using YouTube.” YouTube’s recently announced original channels like eHow, CafeMom and TEDEducation give YouTube viewers the opportunity to watch professionally produced, as opposed to amateur videos (think cats on skateboards), which is expected to increase engagement.

In exchange, YouTube gives brands the opportunity to be found by new audiences and to monetize their content.

The Nielsen study also revealed that 43% of the population are smartphone owners and the number is growing rapidly.  This is advantageous to YouTube because the more smartphones there are, the more chances there are that people will watch YouTube videos on their phones.  

YouTube’s vice president of content partnerships, Robert Kynci, believes more smartphone use and more connected devices will also help solve YouTube’s engagement woes.  

"We're a huge benefactor of what consumer electronics companies are doing with their devices, which is building Internet connectivity into them. It's allowing us to get in front of more consumers."