MySpace and Facebook: Two Very Different Approaches to Video

Nielsen sent out a release today saying that even though time spent on Facebook is up 700 percent, MySpace is still tops for video. That’s not anything revolutionary. It’s hard to remember a time in the last few years when MySpace (via its parent Fox Interactive Media) (s NWS) wasn’t in the top five video sites in the U.S. by just about every measure.

We had pointed out recently that Facebook was on the verge of becoming a top-10 U.S. video site, when you look at comScore’s number of video viewers. Facebook has never emphasized video and only added it as an example application for its new outside development platform when it launched two years ago. And even today, when it has so many unique video viewers, it has a relatively small number of actual video views. But that makes sense, because the site only allows personal video uploads, and does not promote video or work to bring it in from premium partners. Not that many people are going to be interested in watching your webcam upload.

That’s really the difference between the two social networks’ approaches to video; MySpace has cultivated a premium video platform, one that treats video as entertainment rather than personal expression. The site offers long-form content from Hulu and clips from other premium partners like National Geographic. It has also made a practice of acquiring exclusive rights to online-only content (though we’ve seen less of that lately). That approach brings in a lot of video views and time spent on video.

In April, Nielsen measured MySpace visitors spending 384 million minutes viewing video on the site, with an average of 38.8 minutes spent per viewer and 120.8 million total video streams. Facebook visitors spent 113.5 million minutes viewing video that month, with an average of 11.2 minutes spent each and 41.5 million total streams. So if my math is right (dividing total minutes by minutes per viewer), that means Facebook actually comes out on top by number of individual video viewers — with 10.1 million to MySpace’s 9.9 million. So, Nielsen’s thesis is not 100 percent true. And while those numbers are pretty darn similar, video is one category where the two sites are entirely different beasts.