How to Visualize the Ridiculously Big Numbers Representing Global Online Video Usage

According to comScore Media Metrix, nearly 1.2 billion people watched 201 billion videos online globally during October 2011. Do those numbers seem big? That's because this is the first time comScore has released global figures for online video usage.

Date published
December 15, 2011 Categories

According to comScore Media Metrix, nearly 1.2 billion people age 15 and older watched 201.4 billion videos online globally during October 2011. And Google Sites, driven by, ranked as the world’s top video destination with over 797 million people watching almost 88.3 billion videos on the property during the month, accounting for 43.8 percent of all videos viewed globally.

Do those numbers seem especially big? That is because this is the first time comScore has released global figures for online video usage.

So, just how big is each of these numbers? Or, as Steve Allen liked to ask on the game show What’s My Line?, “Is it bigger than a breadbox?”

Well, the population of India is 1.2 billion. So, the worldwide audience for online video is about as big as the planet’s second largest country. Talk about the world’s largest democracy.

And, how long do you think it takes to watch 201.4 billion videos? Well, according to comScore, the duration of the average online content video during October was 5.5 minutes. So, people watched a total of 1.1 trillion minutes of video that month. This means people watched a total of 2.1 million years of video that month.

Now, if one of our ancestors started watching videos online 2.1 million years ago in the Pleistocene epoch, the big news would have been the Yellowstone eruption, which registered as an eight on the Volcano Explosivity Index (VEI). It was a “supervolcano” with a towering ash cloud 10 miles high that poured out at least a thousand cubic miles of ash. Man, a video of that would have gone viral even faster than “Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10.”

The next big number is 797 million, which is the number of people worldwide who viewed videos on Google Sites in October 2001. Although that’s not very close to the population of India, it’s over 2.5 times larger than the population of the United States, which is nearly 313 million.

And comScore said, “ was the key driver of video viewing on Google Sites, accounting for more than 99 percent of videos viewed on the property.” So, if YouTube were a nation, then it would have the third largest population in the world, behind only China (1.3 billion) and India (1.2 billion).

And people watched 88.3 billion videos on Google Sites worldwide during October. So, one of our ancestors would have needed watch YouTube videos for about 486 billion minutes to see them all by the end of that month. And that means he or she would have needed to begin watching around 924,658 years ago.

That’s still in the Pleistocene epoch, but it was before the last magnetic pole reversal, which plunged us into an ice age.

In other words, if one of our ancestors looked at YouTube videos 924,658 years ago, then he or she might have started by watching funny videos of woolly mammoths, how-to videos on making more elaborate tools, and travel videos on places worth migrating to after the last ice age ended. And he or she might have ended by watching “Webcam 101 for Seniors….

Yes, yes, comScore reported some other numbers.

For example, China-based Youku, Inc. was the second largest video property globally with 4.6 billion videos viewed in October (a 2.3 percent global share), followed by VEVO which accounted for nearly 3.7 billion videos (a 1.8 percent share). Nearly 2.6 billion videos were watched on during the month (1.3 percent share), followed by Japan-based Dwango Co., Ltd. with 2.5 billion videos viewed (1.2 percent share).

Oh, and an analysis of selected online video markets by engagement revealed that viewers in Canada and the U.S. averaged the highest number of videos per viewer in October, at 303 videos and 286 videos, respectively. Viewers in the UK averaged 268 videos per viewer during the month, while viewers in Turkey and Germany both watched an average of 250 videos.

Finally, an analysis of selected markets with the highest penetration of online video viewing revealed that 93.6 percent of Internet users in Turkey watched video during the month, followed by Canada with 90.9 percent of web users consuming video. Although markets in Latin America showed lower overall engagement with online video compared to their counterparts in other regions, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico ranked among the markets with the highest penetration, highlighting a significant opportunity for marketers and advertisers as these online video markets continue to develop.

All of this data comes from comScore’s inaugural report on global online video viewing habits. In a press release, Dan Piech, comScore product manager for video, said, “As global broadband connectivity continues to rise, online video viewing has taken off in a big way and has become a fully integrated component of the digital content experience.”

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