Online Videos for May: Over 12 Billion Served

For the month of May, comScore reports that U.S. users watched over 12 billion videos over the Internet--a 45 percent increase in the number of videos viewed online a year ago. Not surprisingly, YouTube garnered the lion's share with almost 35 percent of May's videos viewed online--that's roughly 4.1 billion YouTube videos watched just in the month of May.

"Nearly 142 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 85 videos per viewer in May. Google Sites [mostly from YouTube] also attracted the most viewers (83.8 million), who watched an average of 50 videos per person. Fox Interactive attracted the second most viewers (60.8 million), followed by Yahoo! Sites (40.2 million) and Microsoft Sites (29.5 million)."

Credit: comScore

comScore also reports that "74 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video" in May. With a total of 220 million U.S. Internet users (according to Nielsen/NetRatings), this represents almost 163 million people viewing video online. Interestingly, in a recent report (PDF) Nielson states that "73%, or 162 million [Americans] went online in May." The methodologies used by comScore and Nielson are likely different, but one could infer from the similarities of their findings that approximately three quarters of U.S. Internet users went online in May and almost every single one of them watched at least some online video. In other words, if you are online, you are watching video.

According to a recent study (PDF) by Sandive, video playback and streaming makes up 17.9 percent of all downstream Internet traffic on North American broadband networks. This is a jump up from 14.8 percent a year ago. However, even with the increase of online video watching, Sandive reports that peer-to-peer (P2P) still makes up the highest proportion of online traffic. If you aggregate all HTTP traffic (such as Web browsing and video streaming) into a single category, then the combined, downstream HTTP traffic does overtake P2P traffic. 

Downstream Usage, by Category
Credit: Sandive

Most of the non-P2P traffic, such as video streaming and Web browsing, however, is predominantly a downstream endeavor. Sandive reports that only 2 percent of the broadband upstream traffic is actually from video streaming. It would seem that far more people watch video then upload it for others to watch. P2P makes up a monumental 75 percent of the upstream traffic.

Upstream Usage, by Category
Credit: Sandive

As online videos grow in popularity, video will be certain to consume even greater downstream bandwidth. There might come a point when the dire predictions of ISPs come to fruition that bandwidth hogs will consume so much of the available bandwidth that entire networks will slow down or even fail. Except that these bandwidth hogs might not be P2P users sharing files, but your Aunt Betty watching a video of a cat flushing a toilet.