The way Americans are viewing online videos indicates that the traditional TV is fast facing some existential crisis. Americans viewed a record 16.8 billion videos online in April thanks to a surge in viewership at YouTube. And an average U.S. viewer watched 6.4 hours of online video during the month, according to comScore research findings released June 4.

As online videos offer a vast variety of programs, consumers are even using traditional TV boxes to watch web videos. Research firm ABI Research figures online video viewing is shifting from PC to TV screen. And there are expected to be nearly one billion viewers by 2013. A triangular love affair is happening among Web, TV, and tech players. (Read: Switch On Your TV for Online Video)

The traditional TV has another rival in the form of gaming console that is transforming to deliver entertainment content. For example, Microsoft informs that U.S. consumers alone have spent $14.5 billion across all categories on Xbox 360 at retail. To date, consumers have downloaded nearly 1 billion pieces of gaming and entertainment content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace, including a broad array of high- and standard-definition movies and TV shows. (Read: Xbox 360 Console Sales Hit 30 Million)

Now, comScore says U.S. Internet users viewed 16.8 billion online videos during April 2009, representing an increase of 16% versus March. Though video-sharing site YouTube is trying hard to stand properly on its own feet, a significant increase in video viewing at YouTube during April contributed to the month’s sizeable gains.

And U.S. is not alone where consumers are embracing online video content. According to a 2008 report by the China Internet Network Information Center, there are about 180 million online video users in mainland China. That’s the reason for M2B and Baidu to target online video market in China. The partnership involves M2B making available a WOWtv site customized for China for streaming free and legal video content from M2B’s infrastructure. Baidu, in turn, will drive internet traffic to the Chinese WOWtv site upon its launch. (Read: M2B, Baidu to Target Online Video Market in China)

In April, according to comScore, Google Sites once again ranked as the top U.S. video property with 6.8 billion videos viewed (40.7% online video market share), a 15% increase versus March. YouTube.com accounted for more than 99% of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 513 million videos (3.1%), followed by Hulu with 397 million (2.4%) and Yahoo! Sites with 355 million (2.1%). 

Nearly 152 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 111 videos per viewer in April. Google Sites reached an all-time high of 107.9 million video viewers during the month. Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 58.8 million viewers, followed by Yahoo! Sites (45.4 million) and Hulu (40.1 million).

Other findings from April 2009 include:

  • 78.6% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The average online video viewer watched 385 minutes of video, or 6.4 hours.
  • 107.1 million viewers watched 6.8 billion videos on YouTube.com (63.5 videos per viewer).
  • 49 million viewers watched 387 million videos on MySpace.com (7.9 videos per viewer).
  • Hulu accounted for 2.4% of videos viewed, but 4.2% of all minutes spent watching online video.
  • The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.

My Techbox Online adds: All these numbers are impressive. However, they’re too shallow, as they’re not based on sound revenue models. Most online video sites, like YouTube, are in search of viable business options to turn the increasing popularity of their sites into profits. Will they succeed?

Click here for detailed data on the online video market.

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About Rakesh Raman

Have extensive editorial, content management, and integrated communications experience and have worked as a senior tech journalist, analyst, and columnist with different newspapers, magazines, and Web/online properties in India.

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