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Summary:

Sometimes, irregularity in video stats is just confounding. For April, Nielsen said unique U.S. video viewers were down 2.5 percent in the last year. For May, Nielsen said viewers were up 13 percent year-over-year, to 133.8 million. Today, Nielsen led a press bulletin with the impressive […]

Sometimes, irregularity in video stats is just confounding. For April, Nielsen said unique U.S. video viewers were down 2.5 percent in the last year. For May, Nielsen said viewers were up 13 percent year-over-year, to 133.8 million. Today, Nielsen led a press bulletin with the impressive figure that minutes spent watching video in May were up 49 percent in the last year, to 188.7 minutes per viewer per month. But that’s actually down from 205.7 minutes per viewer in April.

Last time we took note of changes like this that we had trouble explaining, it took a full two weeks for Nielsen to reply to us that the dip was simply “due to minor fluctuations,” so heaven help us if we try to parse this out. But here’s a shot at the takeaways from this month.

Hulu had been mad last month that Nielsen said its unique viewers dropped to 7.4 million; this month it may be happy to learn that Nielsen thinks they’re back up to 10.1 million. (comScore. of course. thinks the site’s unique viewer count is more like 40 million).

Nielsen said there were 10 billion total U.S. video streams in May, up 35 percent year-over-year, and 75.1 million streams per viewer per month, up 20 percent year-over-year.

YouTube was the top site with 6.05 billion total streams to 95.4 million uniques in May, followed by Hulu, Yahoo, Fox Interactive Media and ABC.com, in that order.

One thing I’ll give Nielsen credit for is it actually lays out its video measurement methodology in layman’s terms — though the company did tell us recently that it performs one of its techniques, active measurement via in-player beacon, only for customers’ videos. From the media bulletin:

Nielsen Online’s VideoCensus combines patented panel and census research methodologies
to provide an accurate count of viewing activity and engagement along with in-depth
demographic reporting. Online video viewing is tracked according to video player,
which can be used on site or embedded elsewhere on the Web. For example, if a
“Saturday Night Live” clip from NBC.com is embedded on a personal blog, that
video would be attributed to NBC because of the NBC video player.

A unique viewer is anyone who viewed a full episode, part of an episode or a
program clip during the month. A stream is a program segment. VideoCensus measurement
does not include video advertising.

  1. Davis Freeberg Monday, June 15, 2009

    Hi Liz – thanks for following up on some of these numbers. I read through you in depth report from last week, but wasn’t sure if I understood it right. When Nielsen says that they only use “in player beacons” for “active measurement” does this mean that the numbers they are reporting are only for their customers? If so can we stop looking at these surveys and declaring that company X has the “most” video traffic? Sure would be nice to get some reliable stats on some of Nielsen’s non paying customers outside the US market. As is, these stats don’t seem like much more then deceptive advertisements.

    1. Davis, it doesn’t mean that Nielsen doesn’t count other sites at all. For instance, I don’t believe YouTube works with Nielsen (I know for sure it doesn’t work with comScore) and it is clearly counted here.

  2. Does anyone collate worldwide stats broken down by country?

    I would love to see this information if it’s available.

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