In Depth

What About the Little Guys?

If business wasn’t already tough for the independent Web video creators, consider these latest numbers from Nielsen Online.

In the month of February, online consumers watched 6.3 billion total streams of video on the Internet, according to Nielsen Online.

Not too shabby, eh?

Let’s take a closer look.

Of that, 2.8 billion of those video streams were watched on YouTube, or about more than one-third.

OK, so that leaves us with 3.5 billion video streams for everyone else—everyone else being ABC.com, NBC.com, Veoh.com, Disney.com, and so on.

How did they do claiming their share of online video streams? Well, the next nine most popular online video sites commanded 1.5 billion total video streams, while numbers 11-20 collected 440 million video streams.

That leaves us with 1.56 billion video streams. And we haven’t even reached sites like Break.com, Metacafe, FunnyorDie, ManiaTV, CBS.com, Crackle or Brightcove. And those are all sites that draw decent audiences. So once we sub them out of the number, we’re left with even less.

Now we also know that online video is growing like gangbusters in terms of ad dollars. After all, advertisers are expected to spend $1.4 billion on online video this year, then $2.1 billion the next year, then $3.1 billion the year after, according to eMarketer.

But after we’ve shaved off YouTube viewership and the next 19 sites and then the other popular sites that didn’t even break Nielsen’s top 20 rankings for online video streams, is there enough money to go around? How much of that $1.4 billion has already been allocated to the big guys, to the 800-pound gorillas?

This is a purely unscientific calculation but if we do this solely by ratio of dollars to ratio of streams, we would find that 25% of the dollars are left over after money is spent on the top 20 sites.

That means about $350 million needs to cover everyone else including the Breaks, Metacafes, ManiaTVs and CBS.com’s of the world.

Maybe small is the new big. Maybe the Long Tail will provide.

But maybe the big guys will gobble up most of the money, leaving the little guys scraping for leftovers.