Raw data from online analytics company comScore (NASDAQ:SCOR - News) shows the Chinese online video-streaming sites growing en masse, racking up a cumulative total of approximately 803 million unique views in the month of January 2012. That figure is up from 688 million uniques in December 2011, representing a growth in viewed videos of 16.7 percent.
The top seven sites remained stable from the December to January figures; in descending order, they are: Youku, Tudou, Sohu (NASDAQ:SOHU - News), Tencent (HKG:0700.HK - News), Sina (NASDAQ:SINA - News), PPLive , and iQiyi (formerly called Qiyi).
Tudou declared itself pleased with the numbers (pictured below) - but then it was the source of the raw data - pointing out that its stats were up in three key areas, while rivals (Youku being the main one) decreased slightly between those two months. In January 2012, compared to the previous month, Tudou’s monthly uniques were up 6.5 percent; its total number of video views went up by 14.3 percent; and total number of minutes viewed on Tudou went up by 17.8 percent. The data seems to suggest that Tudou is edging closer to Youku in terms of unique video views and market penetration. The company’s chairman and CEO, Gary Wang, lauded the stats, telling us via email that “investments made in our brand, content, and platform” were “reflected by the significant improvements in key operating metrics in January of this year.” Tudou’s recent financials revealed rising revenue still hampered by the ongoing inability to actually crack a profit.
Youku responded to the information by telling us that “our daily unique visitors exceeded 34 million in December 2011 according to iResearch, which was a 43 percent increase over December 2010, and this number was 1.6-times that of our closest competitor.” Although comScore once described Youku as the world’s second-largest video-streaming social site after YouTube, Youku takes issue with the US analytics firm’s methodology, saying that the “sampling needs improvements” to better reflect the web environment in China.
Here are the comScore stats for January 2012, split into a double-decker view so it can fit in the column:Viewing Time
Aside from the tussling at the top, it’s interesting to see the amount of videos viewed per user, and how long they’re being watched for. Those two metrics look disastrously bad for Funshion, whose videos apparently get watched for only two minutes per user. The best performers here are Baidu’s (NASDAQ:BIDU - News) iQiyi and LeTV - the latter of which launched a joint-venture with Tudou last October - with over six hours of viewership per user, almost certainly busy viewing licensed TV shows and movies. Youku bests Tudou by quite some margin in this area, as the two sites continue to duke it out over broadcast rights to pricey TV series and films.
So that’s how the Chinese video-streaming industry seems to stand now, aside from the disputed numbers. Let’s hope Tudou and Youku never have corporate basketball teams, or they’ll both try to set their own scores based on their own definition of a basket.