Peter Kafka

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Vevo Bounces Back From a Rough Start With 20 Million Streams a Day

Remember Vevo, the “Hulu for music video” service that launched with a lot of fanfare, then earned a ton of lousy press for an error-filled launch?

It has fixed its tech problems and is doing just fine, thank you very much. Vevo says it is generating around 20 million video views a day, which puts it on track to generate some 600 million views a month.

Some context: ComScore (SCOR) says that Hulu itself generates some 900,000 video views in the U.S, making it the second biggest video site after YouTube. And Viacom (VIA), the current No. 3, generates 500,000 views.

If you want to compare apples to apples, though, you have to cut Vevo’s 600 million down to 300 million since about half its views come from outside the U.S. Still, that’s enough to qualify Vevo for eighth place in comScore’s rankings, placing it above AOL (AOL) and CBS (CBS).

And when comScore’s December video numbers are released at the end of this month, Vevo’s numbers will come in below 300 million since it didn’t launch until Dec. 9 and because comScore’s numbers are usually lower than any site’s internal numbers.

Still, that’s a lot of eyeballs, and it’s more than the joint venture between Sony (SNE), Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media Company expected. But the fact that Vevo began with a huge audience, rocky start and all, shouldn’t be a surprise.

In fact, I said so last month. No need to type it twice:

While everyone has rightly been flocking to itself for a look-see, it’s not the most important Web site for the joint venture. That would be YouTube, where most Vevo users are actually going to encounter–and watch–Vevo videos, without even knowing that they’re watching a Vevo video.

To be clear: When Google’s (GOOG) video site agreed to help Universal Music Group (and later Sony) launch a new hub for music videos, it didn’t mean it would be sending its users away from YouTube.

When you read about Vevo launching with 400 million video views in the first month, understand that the majority of those aren’t coming from the new site but from YouTubers who are watching music clips the same way they always do, on YouTube. But Vevo will get credit for those eyeballs and any ad dollars they generate.

That is: If you’re watching a Ke$ha video on YouTube, there’s a good chance you’re watching a Vevo video.

So. Next question. Can Vevo turn all those views into dollars?

We’ll see. CEO Rio Caraeff tells me his sales group continues to bring in high-profile advertisers–the latest, last week, was Procter & Gamble (PG)–and has been able to get between $25 and $30 for every 1,000 impressions. That’s a whole lot better than videos traditionally earned on YouTube, and as good as some TV shows.

But it’s relatively easy to announce that you’re selling your initial batch of inventory at a high rate. It’s much harder to sustain that over time. So it’s hard to read too much into those numbers just yet.

In the meantime, the site is going to get much bigger in the near future.

For one thing, it should start showing videos from EMI Music Group within a few weeks, which means that it will have clips from three of the four big music labels. Warner Music Group (WMG), the lone holdout, has its own deal with YouTube.

And in March, Vevo should start syndicating its clips to other big properties, starting with CBS and AOL, meaning it will have plenty more eyeballs to sell. The challenge will be proving that the JV’s thesis–music videos alone are attractive to advertisers–is worth the effort.

Meanwhile, here’s a primer on Ke$ha, whom I didn’t know about until the other day. She is apparently big with the kids these days.

Gawker’s Doree Shafrir explains this to the rest of us. And if you don’t like words, here’s the clip:

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google