The Mystery Of The Incredible Shrinking Video Sites: What Gives?

Central to all our assumptions about the Web, and particularly Web video, is that we live in boom times, at least in terms of consumption. The business models aren't yet there, but video views keep going up, and a rising tide lifts all boats.

We'd assumed this to be especially true about Web video, given that consumers are still in the adoption phase and that content owners like the studios and TV networks keep putting more free content on the Web all the time. There's simply much more to watch online today than a year ago.

But what if half of our assumption was dead wrong? More content is going up, but for a good many sites -- and this is pretty remarkable -- views are going down. At least that's the picture painted by comScore's VideoMetrix data, a standard third-party source used by advertisers.

comScore says that major video players like Viacom (VIA), Comcast (CMCSA), Veoh, Disney (DIS) and Yahoo (YHOO) generated fewer views in July than they did the year before. It's possible that the measurement company's data is off, which is what Veoh say: It insists that it has grown in the past year and that comScore doesn't accurately measure the site. (They say the same thing about Nielsen VideoCensus). But if comScore's data is at least directionally correct, it's not a pretty picture:

Fox Interactive: 11%
Yahoo: -31%
Viacom: -12%
Disney: -2%
CBS: 95%
ESPN: -12%
ABC: 156%
Comcast: -34%
DailyMotion: 45%
Veoh: -47%
NBCU: 4%

We ran this chart last week, but worth looking at again. While YouTube's (GOOG) gains increased the overall size of the video market this past year, taken together all non-YouTube sites are flat-to-down.


Now, it's possible a flaw in comScore's methods could explain some site-specific situations (Veoh?), and we expect (hope) this post will touch off some debate. It's also true that sites that once got lots of views from music videos like Yahoo, have lost that audience to YouTube and MySpace. But is it possible that comScore has it wrong about the entire U.S. video market? With a sample of 200,000 people, it seems unlikely.

See Also:
YouTube vs. Everyone Else: No Contest
YouTube Payola: Is Anyone Paying For Views?
Experts Agee: YouTube Dominates, But By How Much?
YouTube Exec: We're Selling Ads Against 'Less Than 3%' Of Our Videos

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