Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of Sept. 26th:
1. Summer '09 was a blockbuster for online video - comScore released U.S. online video viewership data early this week, providing evidence of how big a blockbuster the summer months were for each metric comScore tracks. The 3 metrics that I watch most closely each month showed the healthiest gains vs. April, the last pre-summer month comScore reported. Total videos viewed in August were 25.4 billion, a 51% increase over April's 16.8 billion. The average number of videos watched per viewer was 157, up 41% from April's 111. And the average online video viewer watched 582 minutes (9.7 hours), a 51% increase from April's 385 (6.4 hours).
Also worth noting was YouTube crossing the 10 billion videos viewed in a single month mark for the first time, maintaining a 39.6% share of the market. According to comScore's stats I've collected, YouTube has been in the 39% to 44% market share range since May '08, having increased from 16.2% in Jan '07 when comScore first started reporting. Hulu also notched a winning month. While its unique viewers fell slightly to 38.5M from 40.1M in April, its total video views increased from 396M to 488.2M, with its average viewer watching 12.7 videos for a total of 1 hour and 17 minutes. It will be very interesting to see if September's numbers hold these trends or dip back to pre-summer levels.
2. So this is how to make funny viral branded videos - I was intrigued by a piece in ClickZ this week, "There's a Serious Business Behind Funny Viral Videos" which provided three points of view - from CollegeHumor.com, The Onion and Mekanism (a S.F.-based creative production agency) - about how to make branded content funny and then how to make it go viral. The article points out that a whole new sub-specialty has emerged to service brands looking to get noticed online with their own humorous content.
Humor works so well because the time to hook someone into a video is no more than 2-3 seconds according to Mekanism's Tommy Means. Beyond humor, successful videos most often include stunts or cool special effects or shock value. Once produced the real trick is leveraging the right distribution network to drive viral reach. For example, Means describes a network of 100 influencers with YouTube channels who can make a video stand out. After reading the article you get the impression that there's nothing random about which funny videos get circulated; there's a lot of strategy and discipline involved behind the scenes.
3. Wired magazine's article on Netflix is too optimistic - I've had several people forward me a link to Wired magazine's article, "Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable You're History" in which author Daniel Roth makes the case that by Netflix embedding its streaming video software in multiple consumer electronics devices, the company has laid the groundwork for a rash of cable cord-cutting by consumers.
I've been bullish for sometime on Netflix's potential as an "over-the-top" video alternative. But despite all of Netflix's great progress, particularly on the device side, its Achilles' heel remains content selection for its Watch Instantly streaming feature (as an example, my wife and I have repeatedly tried to find appealing recent movies to stream, but still often end up settling for classic, but older movies like "The English Patient").
Roth touches on this conundrum too, but in my opinion takes a far too optimistic point of view about what a deal like the one Netflix did with Starz will do to eventually give Netflix access to Hollywood's biggest and most current hits. The Hollywood windowing system is so rigid and well-protected that I've long-since concluded the only way Netflix is going to crack the system is by being willing to write big checks to Hollywood, a move that Netflix CEO is unlikely to make. The impending launch of TV Everywhere is going to create whole new issues for budding OTT players.
Although I'm a big Netflix fan, and in fact just ordered another Roku, I'm challenged to understand how Netflix is going to solve its content selection dilemma. This is one of the topics we'll discuss at VideoNuze's CTAM Summit breakfast on Oct. 26th in Denver, which includes Roku's VP of Consumer Products Tim Twerdahl.
4. VideoSchmooze is just 1 1/2 weeks away - Time is running out to register for the "VideoSchmooze" Broadband Video Leadership Evening, coming up on Tues, Oct 13th from 6-9pm at the Hudson Theater in NYC. We have an amazing discussion panel I'll be moderating with Dina Kaplan (blip.tv), George Kliavkoff (Hearst), Perkins Miller (NBC Sports) and Matt Strauss (Comcast). We'll be digging into all the hottest broadband and mobile video questions, with plenty of time for audience Q&A.
Following the panel we'll have cocktails and networking with industry colleagues you'll want to meet. Registration is running very strong, with companies like Sprint, Google/YouTube, Cox, MTV, Cox, PBS, NY Times, Morgan Stanley, Hearst, Showtime, Hulu, Telemundo, Cisco, HBO, Motorola and many others all represented. Register now!