Vidmeter Incorporated has published an in-depth study of the number and type of YouTube videos that have been removed at the request of copyright holders. Importantly, the study analyzes not only the number of videos removed, but the percentage of total YouTube views that such videos accounted for prior to their removal.
After the Viacom lawsuit, I scanned Vidmeter's "Top Videos" in an attempt to see whether Viacom (and other big media) videos constituted a large percentage of online video views. This review suggested that they did not--and, therefore, that Google/YouTube had a lot more leverage in the YouTube-Big Media negotiations than was commonly thought. Vidmeter's analysis (which is based on a sample rather than the whole site) goes far beyond my initial scan, but the conclusions are the same:
- Videos removed at the request of copyright owners accounted for only 9% of total YouTube videos.
- Removed videos accounted for only 6% of total YouTube video views. This finding is the opposite of consensus, which assumes that Big Media videos account for a small percentage of total videos, but a large percentage of views.
- Of the removed videos, Viacom's accounted for the largest share of views (2% of total YouTube views), and the second-largest share of videos (1%). Time Warner topped the latter category, also with 1%.
- Most of the videos removed (for Viacom and other Big Media companies) were music videos. Again, this is in direct contrast to the common assumption that they are Daily Show, Colbert, etc.
- Disney's most-viewed removed video, with 430,000 views, was "USC Cheerleader extreme wedgie."
Vidmeter did find that a handful of full length TV shows were removed, but relatively few. (These also received relatively few views before their removal).
On balance, the Vidmeter analysis supports the following theses:
- Traditional media videos make up only a small percentage of YouTube views.
- NBCFoxTube, the hypothetical consortium, even if successful, won't dent YouTube's growth.
- Online video viewers usually watch short clips, not full shows.