Facebook Falls Back in War on YouTube
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- Dezembro 7º, 2015
Over the past year or so, Facebook has made increasingly aggressive attempts to chip away at YouTube’s dominance in the world of short Internet videos. It hasn’t made a dent yet, according to one key measure.
Sandvine, a networking company that reports on which services use the most bandwidth, just published its most recent numbers. YouTube’s share of U.S. Internet activity grew to 17.9 percent, up from 14 percent a year ago. Facebook’s share is only 2.5 percent, down from the 3 percent it claimed a year ago.
Below is a chart showing the share of each major video service in the U.S. over the last two years. Netflix is far and away the biggest, and while Amazon and Hulu are tiny by comparison, both expanded during the year, surpassing Facebook. The growth of those services comes in part from the type of videos they stream: longer, high-quality files that eat up lots of bandwidth. But since Sandvine measures data in the evenings, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu may also look deceptively popular compared with Facebook, which doesn’t have the same nighttime spike.
YouTube’s video service is a more apt comparison, because it also traffics predominantly in short videos that people watch throughout the day.
Those who track online video have been talking up Facebook’s potential to threaten YouTube as a destination for viewers and, ultimately, advertising dollars. Facebook has said 500 million people watch more than 8 billion videos each day on its service. It recently added 360-degree videos to its news feed and is testing a way for its users to share live streams in their feeds.
But skeptics have questioned Facebook’s numbers. Unlike on YouTube, Facebook videos begin playing automatically, and the company counts a view after just three seconds. Big increases in the number of video views that aren’t accompanied by big increases in the amount of bandwidth Facebook uses may suggest people aren’t watching much longer. (That said, Facebook’s usage is going up, just slower than that of some other video services.)
Paul Verna, an analyst with EMarketer, said the way Facebook counts views isn’t “necessarily reflective” of the way users watch video. But he added that Facebook’s plan may not be to replace YouTube as the premier destination for video. It may just want more ad dollars, and marketers’ budgets for digital advertising are increasing.
“Every time I talk to an ad agency or a marketer, they say, ‘Yes, Facebook is very important, as are several other social platforms,’” Verna said. “None of that diminishes the power of YouTube.”
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sandvine’s numbers are just a snapshot of a month or two a year, so its report is hardly a final verdict. But Facebook surely has a long way to go before it becomes anything resembling a real YouTube competitor. Meanwhile, Google’s recent moves—launching a subscription video service and reportedly looking to get rights to stream TV shows and movies—are aimed at Netflix, the biggest bandwidth hog of them all.
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