Holiday gifts for video, film sites December traffic is merry for

Dec. traffic bounce is merry for YouTube, Yahoo Movies, others

Traffic to online video sites reached new heights in 2007, with many destinations seeing a significant uptick in the last couple months of the year.

According to Nielsen Online, Google's YouTube continued to be the dominant site in the category during December, with nearly 46 million more unique visitors than IMDb, its closest competitor. With about 69 million visitors, YouTube gained 20% from October, with other top video/ movie destinations seeing similar gains. Moviefone jumped 52%, Yahoo Movies saw a 33% increase, and MSN Movies gained 32% in that two-month frame.

Observers have pointed to the WGA strike as an impetus behind the recent uptick in online video consumption, but a YouTube spokeswoman rejected the claim. "Due to the very large number of visitors from all around the world and the fast rate at which our viewership is increasing, we have not seen a spike related to one particular instance," she said.

The spike for Yahoo Movies and other film-related sites was in part because of the holiday movie season. In December, Yahoo Movies hosted the first scene of "I Am Legend" and the first five minutes of "The Golden Compass," along with trailers for other films.

"You can definitely see ebbs and flows in both the movies and TV sites that are cyclical to the industry," Yahoo Entertainment vp and GM Karin Gilford said. "Summer and the holidays is a huge surge."

She noted that this year's surge for Yahoo Movies was even greater than last year's, even though this holiday season, as she saw it, was a "little lighter" in terms of action movies.

The holiday season also pushed other movie sites to similar gains, with Fandango up 61% and jumping 55%.

The numbers speak to a larger trend, highlighted by a recent report from the Pew Internet and Life Project. The study found that on an average day the number of users on video sites "nearly doubled" in late 2007 compared with late 2006.

Pew reported that 48% of Internet users had been to a site like YouTube in 2007, compared with 33% in 2006.

Nielsen Online is owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.