Americans watch more video than ever before, says Nielsen

November 25, 2008

This is one of the predictions of OmniVideo — with more ways to watch video, people will end up watching more. I have gone on record saying that the average adult will watch five hours of video a day in 2012, a 25% over the four hours people watch today.

It turns out my prediction may come true sooner than that, especially when you consider this piece today from Meg James at the LA Times. In it, Nielsen reveals that in the third quarter of 2008, the average adult watched 4.5 hours of TV a day. Now, admittedly, this was the quarter in which the Olympics happened, and yes, it was the run up to an unprecedented election, so TV viewing naturally rose higher than it would have been otherwise. But we should expect that once the dust from the election settles, TV viewing won’t revert to 4 hours a day, but will likely stay closer to 4.25 hours, continuing its climb to a stable 5 hours a day by 2012. In other words, I stand by my prediction, and am pleased to see that there’s already evidence that we’re willing to watch more than the record levels we already watch.

This is significantly more than we watched a decade ago. Given that the average TV home hase more than two people in it, the typical home has a television on for 8 hours and 18 minutes a day, up from 7 hours and 15 minutes a decade ago. This will only rise as people have more DVRs and more Internet-connected devices like the Netflix Player by Roku which give us more control over our viewing habits.

Yes, we are addicted to video and I’ll be measuring our addiction over the coming weeks with some blog posts about addiction. Get ready to face your demons. Or not — one of my hypotheses is that increased video viewing is not actually pathological. Sure, a few addicts will go overboard, but most of us are getting real value from video: we’re observing social norms, collecting news, receiving physiological stimulation, emotional expression, relaxation and distraction. We need these things. 

What do you get out of video?

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Making money from user-uploaded video: Auditude, MySpace, and MTVNetworks

November 3, 2008

This is an important announcement, but it’s one that’s hard to understand if you don’t follow this business every day — I found that out last week when trying to speak to reporters who were having trouble with this. One reporter who gets it is Jessica Guynn of the LA Times. Her piece on Auditude, quoting me, ran today

The basic explanation goes like this: A viewer captures a clip of a Colbert Report segment and posts it to MySpace. Auditude’s system checks the clip against a massive database of clips and properly identifies the video as a Colbert Report segment from Thursday, October 30. Auditude checks that content against MTV Networks’ list of content that can be monetized, finds it is approved, then matches an ad to it based on who has paid to sponsor the Colbert Report. When that video gets viewed on MySpace after that, viewers see the clip, with an overlay from MTV Networks promoting the show’s website and airtimes, this is followed by a brief “sponsored by” overlay from the advertiser. MySpace gets to please its visitors, MTVNetworks gets promotion for its popular show, an advertiser gets an interested viewer, and some money greases everybody’s palms, from MySpace to MTV Networks to Auditude. Win, win, win and win.

The prior solution didn’t work. It involved trying to discourage posting of copyrighted materials by taking them down quickly but also by providing the same content in high quality directly from the content owner. For example, Tina Fey’s hilarious interview with David Letterman on October 17th to talk about Fey’s Sarah Palin impersonation, was posted by CBS the day after. It has since earned 156,339 views. But the presumably illegal posting from a random viewer of the same interview went up the night before (the same night as the interview) and has since generated 588,934 views, nearly four times as many (with a much lower quality clip).

Taking those successful videos down means they don’t do anyone any good. Making money from them is a better idea. 

This is really needed for the user-posted video market which up until now had no hope of every making real money. I say real money because advertisers don’t want to touch all the video genuinely created by average people, because: 1) it’s often inappropriate, and 2) no one knows how well it engages viewers. In contrast, professional content like the MTV Networks clips that often make their way onto MySpace are advertiser-friendly. Once we can monetize those millions of video views, there’s a chance that revenue will rush into that vacuum, helping the market hit its online video advertising goals

Long-term, this becomes a standard approach. More networks will sign on to work with MySpace, they do all their learning and experimentation. A few will also work with YouTube (probably CBS, which has always had a cozier relationship with YouTube than the rest) in the meantime. At some point, best practices evolve and YouTube lawsuits get resolved and this becomes a standard practice.