Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Did Web Video Just Stall?

Did we finally get our fill of Web video?

Maybe, according to comScore: The Internet traffic counter says Americans’ appetite for Web clips actually shrank in January.

ComScore says 173.4 million people watched 32.4 billion streams that month. That’s down from 177.6 million and 33.2 billion respectively, in December.

A minor dip, to be sure. Bear in mind that the number of videos streamed is more than double the total we saw a year ago.

And maybe you can chalk the month-to-month drop on the Christmas holidays, which give people lots of downtime that they tend to spend on the Web.

Still, given that we’ve been consuming ever-increasing amounts of video for quite some time, it’s worth noting.

It’s also worth noting that comScore’s (SCOR) numbers don’t mean exactly what you think they do.

When comScore says that Hulu streamed 903,078 videos in January (down 10 percent from December), it doesn’t mean that Americans watched 903,078 shows. It means they watched some combination of 903,078 clips and advertisements, because comScore counts them both as streams.

In other words, a single episode of say, “The Daily Show,” could count as multiple streams, depending on the number of ads Hulu showed.

There’s nothing wrong with counting this way as long as we all know what the numbers mean. But comScore itself acknowledges that it’s confusing. And the company says it plans to break out ads and content at some point in the nearish future.

ComScore’s competitor, Nielsen, meanwhile, already distinguishes between the two. (If you want more on this, check out Hulucination, an awesomely obsessive blog by Big Money writer Chadwick Matlin).

Back to the numbers. Beyond the dip, pretty much the same thing we see every month: Hulu–owned by News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox, GE’s (GE) NBC and Disney’s (DIS) ABC–streams more video than anyone. Except for Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, which dwarfs everyone.

Meanwhile Vevo, the “Hulu for music videos” owned by two of the big music labels, shows up on the Top 10 list in its first full month of operation.

In other news: Did you know you can choreograph a figure-skating routine to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”?

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald