video viewing up… are we really surprised?

The online world is all a-twitter today as people work through this recent Pew Internet& American Life Survey report. The BBC first reported that “Online video sharing sites are reaping the benefits of the ongoing writers’ strike in the US.” in this article. That led TechCrunch to write an article that quoted the BBC article and recently released Nielsen Online numbers that show “According to Nielsen’s figures, YouTube’s audience was up 18% in the two months after the strike started and Crackle doubled its audience from 1.2 million users to 2.4 million users”.

Now, I have no doubt that these numbers are correct. Gods know I watch more and more video online every day ( no it is NOT all NSFW, thank you). But to attribute this so strongly and immediately to the writer’s strike is yet another example of people’s misunderstanding of co-incidental events. Before I even link the two, I want to see the trends from last year. What was the growth pattern over the months of the year in 2006? After all, the Pew report very strongly shows that teens and young adults are some of the biggest consumers of video, and the November/December time frame includes long holidays, end of semester breaks, etc.. They certainly have significantly more time on their hands to cruise the net than other times when classes are in session. (yes, I do know that there are some folks who watch YouTube on laptops in lecture halls..).

Then, I want to see the numbers on a graph with a matched time pattern for other events. Hulu released in early November. YouTube released a new interface somewhere in that time frame and made it easier to subscribe. Joost did a serious push for viewers and was running strong promos in October. Presidential candidates started getting serious on YouTube, electoral coverage is live on YouTube and getting promo’d in the mainstream press more and more.

I believe that there are a myriad of reasons that online video viewing is up… but that the writer’s strike is actually one on the smallest. The BBC article sounded more like it was written to make the writers on strike look strong, than by someone who atually watches video online.

What about you? Have you purposely turned to the web for video to fill a hole in your TV viewing habits??

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