U.S. online video viewing sets record

Audience exceeds 158 million in July

The audience for online video reached record heights last month as more than 158 million Americans streamed a total of 21.4 billion videos in July, according to comScore.

A little more than a year ago, the total audience for Web video appeared to be leveling off. But since April 2008, nearly 24 million more users have become regular online video watchers.

In July, 81% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video, up from 73% in April 2008. The average viewer streamed 8.3 hours of video content last month. Indeed, it seems that July -- a month during which summer vacations would theoretically cut into streaming (at least at work) -- has been particularly strong for movie trailers and music clips, such as the work of the recently deceased Michael Jackson.

Google sites, which include YouTube, dominated the video category, accounting for 42% of all streams during the month (8.9 billion videos overall). Viacom Digital placed a distant second with 812 million streams, or 3.8% of the market.

In terms of unique users, Google also dominated, reaching 121 million unique viewers; Microsoft, with 64.5 million, was next. Fast-growing Hulu reached 38.1 million unique users, good for sixth place. To put Google's dominance in perspective, YouTube's audience averaged 74.1 videos per viewer compared with 12 per viewer for Hulu's audience.

However, to Hulu's credit, while the average online video consumed during the month was 3.7 minutes, Hulu viewers on average watched 73 minutes of video content on the site.