nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

November online video sites see sharp engagement decline. Google hit hard

According to the November Online Video Rankings from comScore, people watched quite a bit less online video in November. Google sites (primarily YouTube) were hit particularly hard, regressing to numbers not seen since earlier this year. Oddly, comScore also reports that ads viewed actually increased.

Google sites fared particularly poorly in November. The number of minutes watched per viewer plummeted 23% from 507 minutes in October to 388 minutes in November. Other top sites fared similarly; with NDN, AOL and Yahoo! all falling about 10%. The only property in the top 8 seeing gains was the music site Vevo, increasing 13% to 48 minutes per viewer.

One very curious thing about the comScore November numbers is the increase in ads delivered and ad minutes viewed, despite the steep decline in video minutes viewed per viewer! If people aren’t watching as much video, it seems sensible that they aren’t watching as many ads. Yet, ads per viewer increased 9% and total ad minutes increased 11%. (I will ask comScore about this and report back here on the explanation.)

From the point of viewer of unique viewers, the picture in November was mixed. Google sites lost just under 1% of viewers finishing the month with 163.4 million uniques. AOL continued its spectacular growth, adding    nearly 9 million viewers, to solidify its position in the number 2 spot with 73 million. Facebook lost 5.5%, but remains in the number 3 spot with 66 million viewers. Yahoo! sites also did well, acquiring 3.5 million more viewers to finish with nearly 46 million on the month.

131218 Other site engagementIronically, much of AOL’s success can be attributed to its strategy of aggressive video syndication. Ran Harnevo, President of AOL Video, said at the recent BroadbandTVcon that the company syndicates video through 1,700 sites. Doing this is obviously casting a very wide net that is working to bring viewers back to AOL’s sites.

Looking at the top 8 video properties in terms of unique viewers over the first 3 quarters of 2013, shows the number one spot remains with Google sites. The company has averaged 144M viewers a month over the last 9 months. Despite AOL’s spectacular rise this year, Facebook edges it out of the number 2 spot with 57M average monthly viewers versus AOL’s 47 million. Vevo rounds out the top 4, averaging 46 million viewers a month for the first 3 quarters of 2013.

131218 Top 8 sitesFrom the perspective of minutes viewed per viewer, the picture is very different. Google stills leads with 411 minutes, but NDN (News Distribution Network) is second with over 75 minutes. Yahoo! averaged 61 minutes per viewer in the first three quarters and 2013, and AOL is just behind with 56 minutes.

Why it matters
The number of people watching online video in the U.S. appears to have plateaued at around 190 million.

The amount of time they spend watching can fluctuate 10% or so month over month, although the core consumption seems to have settled at about 22 hours a month.

It’s unclear how the overall amount of video consumed in November can fall 10%, yet the number of ads delivered and ad minutes watched increase 10%.

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