Why YouTube Should Fear Facebook, the NHL Playoffs Edition

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This week Facebook said it was serving four billion video views a day, up from one billion just six months earlier.

As my colleague Kurt Wagner wrote, “going from one billion to four billion total views per day in a little over six months is one of the reasons people now consider Facebook as a bona fide YouTube competitor.”

Want a few more data points to support the fear-Facebook storyline? Here are a few, courtesy of the NHL playoffs.

Last night, Facebook popped two hockey videos into my News Feed. One was a compilation video showing Rangers highlights interspersed with the reactions of fans watching the game at home. That video has been viewed 240,000 times on Facebook as of this morning.

The same video on Youtube? About 1,200 views.

The second video was a short clip of the Rangers’ winning goal, which the team posted. It has 190,000 views on Facebook this morning, while the team didn’t even bother to post the highlight to YouTube.

To be sure, Facebook is pretty liberal in what it counts as a “video view” (the video just has to play for three seconds, according to a corporate post last May). Facebook videos also play automatically in the News Feed, which obviously boosts numbers.

But by posting to the social network, the league and the Rangers can take advantage of Facebook’s massive scale and targeted algorithm, which pushes the video in front of different groups it thinks will like it. Some of those are fans of the team or the sport on Facebook. But a lot are probably Facebook friends of the people who have liked the team or video. That’s what happened in my case, but the videos still felt relevant to me and I didn’t mind seeing them in my feed.

Compare that with the YouTube distribution approach, which would require the Rangers to drive viewers to their YouTube page or count on them finding the video embedded somewhere on the web. It’s a classic push vs. pull distribution battle, and video programmers and distributors are certainly taking note.

Bonus: Here’s the NHL clip, courtesy of, yes, a YouTube embed.

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