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Hulu Addiction Is Growing, According to Nielsen Online Video Stats

The Nielsen stats from December (above) are in, and in case there was any doubt, online video usage continues its steady climb upward. While that's good news if you don't already have a traditional video business that needs to be supported, it isn't good news for the TV networks. While it's not eye-popping growth, the data, shows steady double-digit growth year-on-year in most categories.

But the chart also shows an increase in a certain kind of behavior, which indicates that more people are watching longer form content online. While streams per viewer were up only 1.4 percent, time per viewer was up 13.2 percent. That points directly at sites like the broadcast network-backed Hulu, which mostly airs TV shows and clips of TV shows.

To get some historical perspective on the trend, data from October 2009, the Hulu had just over 9 million unique viewers; that's a 50 percent increase. However, here's a more interesting stat: during that same time frame, the number of streams on Hulu per month has tripled. In other words, as more and more people find Hulu, they seemingly can't get enough of on-demand viewing of TV shows with limited ads. YouTube, still far away the leader in terms of total streams and unique viewers, has a different growth trajectory right now. Interestingly enough, in both viewers and streams, it has grown by 27 percent in the last fourteen months to 6.5 billion streams and a little over 105 million unique viewers.

So, if I were a broadcast network, I'd take a look at these numbers and start working on those alternative revenue streams; maybe have a talk with the guys over at News Corp., who have been so vocal about bringing a subscription model to Hulu. The sooner they get a handle on how to generate real revenue from their online ventures, this, the better off they'll be.

(I should note that despite the declines month-over-month between November and December, Nielsen's November 2009 online video data shows a 17 percent increase compared to a year earlier. The month-over-month data decline may reflect seasonal behavior.)

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