Growth in Video Consumption
The initial success of YouTube, the mother lode of online video, has fueled hopes among newspaper executives that video can drive consumers to websites. Their optimism is well-founded. According to ComScore, which generates statistics on web use in the U.S, the amount of time spent watching videos on line climbs each month. Online video viewing “accelerated” in 2009 with “19 percent more people in the U.S. viewing video online for longer periods of time.”
-- In 2009 26% of online video viewing time was spent on YouTube and 22% on the next 24 most popular video viewing sites. Significantly, 52% of online viewing time was spent on sites other than the 25 most popular, which indicates a growing fragmentation in the market.
-- The month over month data shows the average online viewer consumed 187 videos in December 2009, a 95% increase from December 2008. And indicating a growing willingness to watch longer videos online, the duration of the average video viewed online grew from 3.2 to 4.1 minutes.
Another promising statistic is the amount of revenue video advertising generates. Since video ads began being used on newspaper-based websites, they have become the most lucrative forms of advertising available. ComScore notes, “Higher quality video and more seamless integration of video ads are emerging and adding value to the digital advertising market – to the benefit of both advertisers and publishers.”
But there is a disconnect. Even though media companies are eager to tap into this rich vein of viewership, they haven’t been willing (or perhaps able in this economic environment) to shift resources to make that possible. Many managers believe quantity will push consumer demand (as it did for YouTube) and have placed a production burden on individuals and small teams to create more video. Meanwhile video journalists say consumers are in search of quality, not quantity.
“It is all going to boil down to the quality of the finished product; the quality of story choice, the quality of story execution, and the quality of presentation,” says Jim Seida, a senior multimedia producer at MSNBC.com. “The bottom line is people want to watch great material. The technical quality of web-based video keeps getting better all the time and people want the good stuff. As the audience starts to see great examples of video stories on the web, tolerance for lower quality will diminish.” Whitaker echoes his sentiments. “In the first blush of YouTube’s success, many suggested that somehow on the web, YouTube showed people would accept lesser quality. I never bought that argument. As technology gets better and people get better using it, the people get used to seeing better things on the web, people won’t accept crappy-looking video. Our quality is going to drive expectations. People will want better quality.”