In email messages obtained by the New York Times, Hulu executives have been busy this week complaining to Nielsen about April’s reported loss of unique viewers, down from 7.4 million in March. “Uniques,” of course, is the stat that matters most to advertisers and the media these days.
ComScore, a competitor to Nielsen’s online ratings, reports Hulu’s total audience much higher, at 42 million for March — a spread of 34 million or so compared with Nielsen’s number for that month. (None of the ratings services have direct access to Hulu’s server reports, so one way or another, they’re all estimates.)
The Times weighs in on the mess:
The wildly divergent numbers demonstrate the nascency of the market for online-video measurement. It’s “still the wild, wild West,” said Rob Davis, a leader of the interactive video practice at OgilvyInteractive. … “Industrywide, we need to solve this.”
Meanwhile, Nielsen found some good news for Hulu, as it must:
Streaming-video consumers in the moneyed 35-to-49 demographic hiked their time spent on the site by 154% in the past six months, making it the top demo in viewing hours — an average of almost 7 hours. The 18-24 demo came in second in time spent, while the 25-34 group placed third.
Nielsen Online’s Jon Gibs does a spin drive-by: “Despite what many believe, it is not the young, tech-savvy, early-adopters who are attracted to long-form video. In fact, we see that it is the older crowd, viewers 35-plus, who gravitate toward long-form video, with sites like Hulu acting as a perfect example of this.”
Nielsen said Hulu’s total streams (online videos engaged by viewers) grew from 63.2 million in April 2008 to 373.3 million in April 2009 — some sort of land-speed record.
Hulu ranks second on both Nielsen and comScore’s key charts for online video, far behind Google’s YouTube.
Hulu’s uniques hit a high in February, the month in which the video service announced that its bad self had arrived with this snarky Super Bowl ad featuring Alec Baldwin.