ComScore Video Metrix has just released the March 2011 U.S. Online Video Rankings and the big news is that AOL Inc. now ranks #2 in total unique visitors behind Google Sites, which continue to rank #1. As Vice President Joe Biden would say, "This is a big ... deal."
First, let's look at the numbers: According to comScore Video Metrix, 174 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in March for an average of 14.8 hours per viewer.
This is up from 170 million U.S. Internet users who watched an average of 13.6 hours per viewer in February. But February is a short month. Move along, nothing to see here.
Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in March with 143.2 million unique viewers, followed by AOL, Inc. with 57.0 million viewers. Yahoo Sites ranked third with 56.4 million viewers, Microsoft Sites came in fourth with 53.1 million viewers, while VEVO ranked fifth with 52.6 million viewers.
Let me repeat the big news which is highlighted in bold -- AOL is now #2 with 57 million unique viewers in March. That's up from the #7 spot and 38.8 million unique viewers in February. In other words, AOL just leapfrogged over VEVO, Microsoft Sites, Yahoo Sites, Facebook, and Viacom Digital to land in second place.
Now, AOL announced it was acquiring The Huffington Post in February, so any videos viewed there in March are now included in AOL's owned and operated properties along with Moviefone and Engadget, But there's more going on here than just the addition of HuffPo.
According to Brad Elders VP of video sales, "AOL Video saw explosive growth in unique visitors and streams in March due to our focus on creating and aggregating the most engaging video content and distributing it through our owned and operated properties as well as our third party publisher network that is enabled by our recent acquisition of 5min media. The recently released March comScore numbers that puts AOL Video #2 in reach against video viewers in confirmation that our strategy is working."
In other news, comScore Video Metrix also reported that Americans viewed 4.3 billion video ads in March, with Hulu generating the highest number of video ad impressions at more than 1.2 billion. Tremor Media Video Network ranked second overall (and highest among video ad networks) with 804.3 million ad views, followed by Adap.tv (553 million) and BrightRoll Video Network (398 million).