How Internet Video View metrics can lie to you

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May 20, 2016 by Paul Dughi

watermelon-vs-cnn

Kevin Draper wrote a brilliant analysis on Internet Video views in Gawker that really puts things in perspective.

“100% bullshit,” is what he called Internet Video View metrics.

I’m not sure I agree that the numbers are BS.  I do, however, agree that the way people use the number is.  People hear big numbers of digital viewing and compare it to TV viewing in an illogical way since the measurements are completely different.  They, therefore, draw incorrect conclusions.

watermelonHere’s the logic behind the statement Kevin made:  we see these gaudy numbers about video views – like the BuzzFeed exploding watermelon.  At its peak, 807,000 people watched it.  People compare that to Television viewing numbers and conclude, inaccurately, that more people are watching online videos (like exploding watermelons) than TV programs.  But what’s being reported is peak viewing – the maximum number of people watching any portion of the video.  Draper compares that to the CNN audience, which averages 712,000.  On the surface, it sounds like the BuzzFeed video had more viewers, right?  But let’s dig in.  Not everybody watched the whole watermelon video.  Measuring it the same way we measure TV – which is “average minute audience” as opposed to 3 seconds of viewing that Facebook uses – would show a much, much lower number.

CNN2-articleLargeIn Draper’s watermelon example, he took the total views of the watermelon explosion (10.7 million to date) and broke that down to an apples-to-apples comparison with the way we measure TV audiences.  He says the 10.7 million digital views would equate to… 28,563 average minute TV audience.  So instead of beating CNN, it actually delivered (in total) about 4% of what CNN delivers every minute.

He cites two other examples:

  1. Nielsen: The 2014 World Cup on ESPN received 115.5 million digital views.  That equaled just 7% of the TV audience.
  2. FX: Applying the same digital video viewing metric to “OJ Simpson” on TV would have shown 143.9 million hours viewed and 259 BILLION VIEWS.

Read the full analysis here.

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