The Value of Video

While TV Episodes Attract Viewers, Short-Form Producers Have A Large Hill To Climb Toward Profitability.

While lunching at my desk yesterday, I watched comScore’s Tania Yuki present from OMMA, originally streamed live on June 15 in New York via Ustream.

Tania is comScore’s Director, Product Management, focused on video online measurement. The session was titled, “Morning Numbers: What’s Video Worth”. I was impressed with the presentation (slides), specifically the data, depth and direction the Video Web is and heading, 5 years hence.

One of Tania’s most notable areas of focus, and one I found intriguing, is the significant shifting of perspective, or definition, of what “video” on the web has grown up to include, much less being dominated by. “Long form video”, or more precisely, TV Episodes, has been gaining quickly, and promises to be the “poster child” of the video web.

Whereas when the video web began in 2005, a date that will live on in infamy as NBC dropped the shoe atop the young-and-nimble YouTube for allowing a Saturday Night Live clip to be aired by a rogue uploader, videos were short in duration, roughly 2-6 minutes runtime, a result of limitations on server space, upload speeds and viewer attention spans.

Yet since January 2006, as user adoption for watching video on the PC skyrocketed; 81% growth, year over year, with 178 million people watching video each month, averaging 171 videos per person and a total 30.3 billion videos viewed, there is little question that the web is not just the grandest video distribution platform in history, but people are finding it incredibly useful.

While those are impressive numbers by any standard of growth, what jumped at me was the “duration” number; that is, the average amount of time viewers spend watching video on their pc each month.

In April 2009 the average amount of minutes spent watching video that month by all users was 60 billion minutes, yet by April 2010, the number of total minutes viewed grew by 127%! Why? According to Tania, Long-Form Premium Content began flooding onto the web and people who were drawn to TV episodes – of 20 minute and 40 minute duration (assuming without commercials) were watching, enjoying and finding the experience useful. Enjoying it so much that the average individual increased their time spent viewing on the pc by 39%.

Tania also shared a perspective on why video viewing is outpacing ad spending, that is; what is accounting for the “bogey” between impressive growth in viewers and time spent vs. not-so impressive growth in ad revenues. According to an IAB/PWC Report, while 83% growth in video views, there was only a 36% growth in ad inventory. And how when viewing online, only 1% of the time spent is watching ads compared to 25% of time spent watching ads on TV.

While I found the findings and reasoning compelling, video ads on the Video Web is still in its infancy and worth looking at in perhaps another post. I was more curious about the final point which was the “softer” value of video – seemingly directed toward the producers and marketers of the long-form TV Episodes and branded shows.

The value of video is more than just another screen. Based on research, there is now strong evidence that:
– 25% of people who are watching long-form video/Episodes on their pc or TV screen are multi-tasking and engaging others in comments about the TV Show.
– 41% of long-form/TV show viewers have paused their viewing to check out the advertisers web site or research the brands whose ads they are viewing.
– People are connecting with friends. 1 in three people comment on videos regularly. 1 in 2 share video. 1 in 3 upload the video to other sites.
– 55% are having some form of communal viewing experience; sitting at the desk at work, on the couch at home watching on the pc or connected to the TV screen via the pc.

Long-form video certainly has the advantage over short form video because TV shows are a known entity with powerful marketing machines, quality curation processes and highly valued production from top professional talent. However, I am left wondering about everybody else in the Video Web ecosystem. There are thousands upon thousands of sources producing and distributing video, mostly short-form clips or targeted segments, onto the video web. And more and more of these sources are producing excellent, if not highly relevant video that is entertaining, informative and potentially profitable.

At my company, ClipBlast, we aggregate, index, organize and lead people to video from well over 8,500 quality sources and brands in addition to TV Episodes and Movies distributed by NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC. As our organizing technology identifies the meaning of each video, the people featured, and many other attributes or “entities”, it is clear that the video web is bursting with valuable content far deeper than anything before it and the value of video promises to be useful and beneficial for many years to come. And as that happens, we are committed to see the video web grow as a valuable source of revenue for the smaller, short form producers AND the companies churning out branded and heavily marketed TV episodes.

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