By Sahil Patel
Since what feels like the dawn of time, Google and YouTube have had a stranglehold on the online video market, dominating in volume and viewership by a mile. This year has been pretty remarkable in part because of the emergence of one legitimate competitor to YouTube, and a few potential ones.
Facebook and Vessel are just two of many companies looking to grab a larger share of the online video pie — and that’s in addition to existing “legacy” companies like AOL and Yahoo, which have significantly expanded their video businesses in the past few years.
The numbers seem to reflect what is and will be an increasingly competitive space.
According to the latest comScore data, Google/YouTube is still the top player in the online video market with 162.1 million unique viewers in the US in November.
But the distance between Google/YouTube and those sitting below it on the monthly comScore charts is not as great as it used to be. AOL crossed a major milestone in November by topping 100 million unique viewers for the first time, with nearly 103.7 million. Right behind them? Facebook, which reached 95 million uniques, according to comScore.
Compare these numbers to last November, when Google/YouTube had 163.5 million unique viewers, AOL had 73 million uniques, and Facebook had 66.2 million. Better yet, compare them to this past May — six months ago — when Google/YouTube boasted 150.2 million uniques, AOL had 66.2 million, and Facebook had 81.4 million.
A few caveats: In these charts, comScore measures viewing of video content on desktop devices in the US. It doesn’t account for mobile and global viewing, where Google/YouTube still surely dominate.
But the data suggests the direction online video is headed in, where there is a lot more competition for viewership and ad dollars.
For instance, the chart above demonstrates the growing strength of Facebook, which is nearly as strong as Google is in terms of video views and minutes per viewer — and no one else is even close.
Then there’s comScore’s video ad chart, where Google was fifth (with nearly 3.12 billion impressions) behind SpotXchange (6.93 billion), AOL (5.99 billion), BrightRoll (5.13 billion), and Facebook-owned LiveRail (4.88 billion) in November. While this is not certainly new information — the US online video ad business has been a five- or six-team race for a long time now — Google used to top these charts regularly.
Or as one executive from a rival video company says to me, “YouTube is a big part of the web, but [it’s] not the only part.”