comScore: Most Online Video Viewing Happens in the Long Tail

YouTube and Hulu are frequently touted as the top destinations for viewing online video — but while those sites frequently top the lists for number of videos viewed online, it turns out that consumers spend more time watching videos elsewhere, according to comScore’s 2009 U.S. Digital Year in Review.

YouTube is still the dominant online video site, controlling about 26 percent of all time spent viewing videos online in December, according to comScore data. The next 24 top video destinations accounted for an additional 22 percent of time spent viewing videos online. That means the remaining 52 percent of time spent watching online video happens in the long tail of online video.

In addition to charting the amount of time spent on top video destinations versus long-tail sites, the report tracked some other key stories that emerged over the year. One of the bigger stories was the emergence of Hulu as a major online video destination. Hulu saw dramatic growth in the number of videos viewed on its site, as well as strong growth in the amount of video the average user watched. The amount of time viewers spent on the site ballooned 140 percent, to more than 5.8 billion minutes, meaning that the average Hulu user spent more than two hours on the site during the month.

The number of people viewing online video also jumped almost 20 percent in 2009, with viewers watching video for longer periods of time — from 3.2 minutes per video in December 2008 to 4.1 minutes per video a year later. While that could indicate growing patience among online video viewers, it could also be linked to an increase in the number of long-form videos being watched on sites like Hulu. The average number of videos viewed per user almost doubled over the course of the year, up to 187 videos during December.

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