Mass Video Murder: Comedy Kills Online

June 4, 2010

by Steve Smith at VidBlog

Ironic but true: Violent metaphors seem attached to comedy. Stand-ups "bomb" or "kill." Bad comics don't just fail or fizzle; when things go awry; they "die up there."

Well if we stick with tradition, then comedy content "murders" the Internet. According the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 50% of online adults say they watch comedy videos, which is up markedly from the 31% who went for the big laughs two years ago. Pew's new study The State of Online video updates a 2007 report and in most respects confirms the obvious: online video is just killing us. More than half of all U.S. adults (or 69% of adult Internet users) now watch or download video. The key growth categories in addition to comedy are educational videos (from 22% of Internet users in 2007 to 38% in 2009), movies and TV episodes (16% to 32%) and music videos (22% to 32%).

What do advertising and porn have in common? Both categories showed nominal growth between 2007 and 2009 in terms of what users reported watching. In 2007, 13% said they had watched ads, but in 2009 that upticked only to 15%. Similarly, adult content occupied 6% of us online two years ago and 7% now. It is not clear of course how consumers defined "advertising," whether it was a simple pre-roll or a deliberate visit to a promotional message. Porn -- well -- as the Supreme Court once said, we know it when we see it.

At least one of the Pew statistics does shed some new light on other metrics already out in the field. Many of us have been surprised by the meteoric growth of Facebook this year as a source of video streaming. In March, comScore clocked Facebook having 40.6 million unique viewing video content, putting it in sixth place by video audience size. In fact, its average videos per user that month of 26.7 was second only to Google/YouTune and far ahead of everyone else. Now we know why. Pew found that the most commonly used sites for personal video uploads was social networks like MySpace and Facebook (52%) followed by video sharing sites like YouTube (49%).

Which simply means that Facebook has even more user-generated content it will struggle to monetize.

The full Pew report is available on line at the site.


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