Following are 3 key themes from VideoNuze in May:
1. Hulu Moves to Center Stage
Already on a roll, Hulu gained lots of mind share in May. After YouTube it is clearly the most-buzzed about video site - not a bad accomplishment for a site that just celebrated its one year anniversary.
The month began with the announcement that Disney would invest in Hulu, at last making available ABC and other programs in Hulu's ever-growing portal. Hulu gained stature during the month as the statistic from comScore released in late April - that Hulu was now the #3 most-popular video site, with 380 million video views in March - was repeatedly recirculated. (Hulu was separately disputing data released from Nielsen showing a far-smaller audience.)
In addition to the Disney content, Hulu also announced its first live event, tonight's concert from the Dave Matthews Band. Capping the month was last week's Hulu Labs announcement, showcasing the desktop app that moves Hulu one step closer to being TV-ready.
Hulu's growth and top-notch user experience continue to set the pace in the online video world. Still, as I noted in my post about the Disney deal, what's still unproven is the Hulu business model and how it plans to navigate the convergence of broadband and TV. The spin coming from its owners is that financial progress is being made, yet Hulu's per program viewed revenues continue to be a fraction of those derived from on-air viewership. Sooner than later, I predict the Hulu growth story is going to start to give way to the Hulu financial story, which may yet include subscriptions.
2. Susan Boyle Shows Power and Conundrum of Viral Video
It was hard to miss the Susan Boyle phenomenon in May. As of last Thursday (before the finale of "Britain's Got Talent" in which she placed second) her original video had generated over 235 million views, according to tracking firm Visible Measures. Ms. Boyle's sensational performance has mainstreamed the term "viral video." The idea that you can become a worldwide personality is truly a broadband-only invention.
Yet 3 1/2 years after SNL's "Lazy Sunday" video became the first bona fide big media YouTube hit (despite NBC's efforts), the process for copyright holders and distributors to monetize these viral wonders remains immature. The NY Times described the interplay over the Boyle viral videos between YouTube, Fremantle, ITV and others, and why those hundreds of millions of views are still under-monetized. But with broadband distribution's increasing importance, this won't last; viral monetization rights are inevitably going to become a key part of the upfront negotiating mix.
3. Mobile video growth
Mobile video continued to get a lot of attention from content providers, service providers and handset makers in May, with initiatives from NBC, NBA, E!, Samsung, Sling, among others (a full listing of mobile video news is here). The mobile video ecosystem is responding to data indicating surging consumer acceptance, primarily driven by the iPhone. In May Nielsen released a report indicating mobile user growth from Feb '07 to Feb '09 was 74%, and that iPhone users are 6 times more likely to consume mobile video. The crush of new smartphones coming in the 2nd half of '09 promises that mobile video usage is going to continue growing rapidly. Limelight's acquisition of mobile ad insertion company Kiptronic is likely the tip of the deal iceberg as companies position themselves for mobile.
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