Does Online TV Have a Short Shelf Life?

New research indicates that online videos get the majority of their views soon after they’re posted. Of 10,916 videos with at least 1,000 views after 90 days, half of those views happened over the first two weeks, according to a study by video analytics firm TubeMogul. Views peak on day three, with 11 percent of all views happening on that day, according to the study.

So what does this mean? Despite the on-demand revolution, we still experience cultural phenomena together. Which is great in its own way. But I’m skeptical — focusing on the first 90 days and extrapolating from there is bound to bias growth towards the beginning of a video’s lifecycle.

And how does it account for classic gems like this one — Mr. T rapping “Treat Your Mother Right,” which I first saw this week, more than a year after it had been added to YouTube? Not to mention however well it did when it originally aired, this version has nearly 2 million views and a full page of comments just from the last day.

But TubeMogul has even created a calculator based on its research that projects how many views a video will get over a year based on how many views its gotten over the number of days it’s been out (scroll to the bottom of the page to see it).

The firm concludes:

“On average, videos are time-sensitive. Trends pointed out elsewhere, such as ‘evergreen’ (non-time sensitive) content always fetching views or videos randomly ‘going viral,’ seem more of a rarity than an underlying trend in the data.”

OK, so maybe Mr. T is an anomaly. Story of his life, right?

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