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.)
Previous coverage of online video at BNET Media:
- YouTube, Hulu Deals Prove Online Video Surprisingly Mature For Its Age
- Hulu: You Absolutely Need to Start Charging Users. Or, Why News Corp. Is Right
- Music Video Site Vevo Is Like Hulu But With a Better Business Model
- Seven (Often Stupid) Reasons Hulu Doesn't Have More Ads
- The Ties That Bind Google, YouTube and Media Companies