The average U.S.-based Internet user is now watching some 30 mintes of online video every day, according to new data from comScore. The viewing time per user is up 40% since last year, thanks in part to video sites like YouTube making their offerings stickier.

tv screen on stairs

TV still rules the world, but online video is catching up: The amount of time spent watching TV shows and other content online has grown 40 percent since October 2009, according to data in the most recent comScore Video Metrix. The analytics firm said today that 175 million U.S.-based Internet users watched an average of 15.1 hours hours of video online last month, compared to an average of 10.8 hours watched by 167 million in October 2009.

That means U.S. Internet users who frequent video sites now watch an average of 30 minutes of online video a day. As a frame of reference, recent Nielsen data shows U.S. households watch about five hours of TV a day.

Part of the growth in online video has to do with individual sites becoming stickier. One good example for this trend is YouTube, which attracted a total of 146 million viewers in October when combined with the other Google video properties. comScore recorded more than two billion viewing sessions for Google’s video sites that month. Do the math, and you’ll see that the average YouTube viewer now watches videos for some 19.7 minutes before leaving the site.

YouTube is trying to extend the length of these sessions even further by offering its users a more immersive experience. The site recently launched its big screen-optimized Leanback user interface to serve videos as a continuous stream, and YouTube’s Hunter Walk told us at NewTeeVee Live last week that the goal is to encourage “low-intent viewing” by serving a personalized channel of videos as opposed to the thousands of channels on cable TV.

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