Average Viewer Watched 23.2 Hours of Online Video Content in December

comScore LogoAccording to the latest data from comScore Video Metrix, 182 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in December 2011 for an average of 23.2 hours per viewer.

That’s a lot of time.

A year ago, 172 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in December 2010 for an average of 14.6 hours per viewer. So, the number of video viewers has increased 5.8 percent in the past 12 months, but the time spent viewing videos has increased 58.9 percent.

Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in December 2011 with 157.2 million unique viewers. VEVO ranked second with 53.7 million. Yahoo! Sites ranked third with 53.3 million viewers, followed by Viacom Digital with 45.8 million and Facebook.com with 42 million.

Almost 43.5 billion videos views occurred during the month, with Google Sites generating the highest number at 21.9 billion. The average viewer watched 23.2 hours of online video content, with Google Sites getting 7.9 hours and Hulu getting 3 hours.

The December 2011 YouTube partner data revealed that video music channels VEVO with 53.5 million viewers and Warner Music with 31.7 million viewers maintained the top two positions. Gaming channel Machinima ranked third with 22.7 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios with 10.4 million, FullScreen with 9.7 million and Big Frame with 8.3 million.

Among the top 10 YouTube partners, VEVO demonstrated the highest engagement with 67 minutes per viewer and highest number of videos viewed at 782 million, while Machinima exhibited the second highest engagement with 64 minutes per viewer and number of videos viewed at 340 million.

A year ago, YouTube partner data wasn’t even available. But it’s worth noting that a couple of the top YouTube partner channels have more unique video viewers than many of the top online video content properties.

Last month, we took a closer look at how Hulu grew its audience by 23 percent year over year. This month, let’s take a closer look at VEVO, the second U.S. online video content property ranked by unique video viewers and the top YouTube partner channel by unique viewers.

In April 2009, Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company Google Inc. announced that UMG and YouTube, a Google subsidiary, were working together to launch VEVO, a music and video entertainment service. At the same time, YouTube renewed and extended its successful partnership with UMG. The two companies also said they would share advertising revenue on YouTube and VEVO.

In June 2009, Sony Music Entertainment (SME) joined UMG to create VEVO. In October 2009, VEVO received a strategic investment from Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), one of the world’s fastest growing, multi-platform media organizations.

On December 8, 2009, VEVO was launched at New York City’s Skylight Studios. The event featured a star-studded line-up that included Bono, Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Ciara, Shania Twain, Ke$ha, Corinne Bailey Rae and Rihanna, among many others. The evening ended with exclusive live performances by Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert. Guests were also treated to the world premieres of new videos by 50 Cent and Mariah Carey.

That month, VEVO became the most visited U.S. web network in the Entertainment-Music category with 35.4 million unique visitors, according to comScore. VEVO’s number one ranking was even more impressive since the service’s December 8 launch meant VEVO was not live for the full month of December, which comScore based its results.

A year later, VEVO had 50.6 million unique viewers in December 2010, with much of its viewing being driven by VEVO on YouTube. And as reported above, VEVO had 53.7 million as of December 2011.

Greg Sandoval of CNET News reports that YouTube is in talks with at least three of the four top record companies about renewing the video service’s music licenses. According to Sandoval’s sources, “Negotiations with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music, appear to be going smoothly – and one of the labels, in fact, may have already wrapped up its deal.”

What does this mean to marketers?

It means that video advertising on YouTube with close to 157.2 million unique viewers or on VEVO with 53.7 million unique viewers can reach an audience that’s significantly larger than, say, Hulu with 31.2 million unique viewers.

Yes, I know conventional wisdom says that people are watching TV and movies online. But they are also watching music videos featuring Katy Perry, JoJo, Duran Duran, Justin Bieber, David Cook, Enrique Iglesias, The Fray, and Kanye West. And you don’t want end up singing, “The One That Got Away.”

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