YouTube Users Watched 14.6 Billion Videos In May

YouTube users watched 14.6 billion videos in May, says ComScore, an all-time high for Google’s video service

No wonder mobile and fixed-line networks are feeling the data strain after comScore revealed an all time record number of visitors to the video streaming website YouTube.

YouTube users watched 14.6 billion videos for the month of May, an all-time high for the website, accounting for 43.1 percent of all videos viewed online, comScore said.

Overall, 183 million US Internet users watched some 34 billion videos for the month, an average of 186 videos per viewer. That’s a jump from April, when US users watched 180 million videos.

When people weren’t watching videos on YouTube, they were watching them on Hulu (1.2 billion videos), Microsoft Sites (642 million videos), Vevo (430 million videos) and YouTube court buddy Viacom Digital (347 million videos).

See the charts, along with top video advertisers, here.

Viacom Battle

YouTube’s growth shows that its popularity hasn’t waned despite a tense, three-year legal battle with Viacom, which sued the video-sharing site for copyright infringement.

Viacom argued Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion (£1.1 billion) in 2006 because it was a “haven of infringement” and profited from it via digital advertising.

Google claimed content placed on YouTube by millions of users is protected by the DMCA so long as it takes it down when companies request it.

Judge Louis L. Stanton, of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, sided with the search engine, granting its motion for summary judgement.

Stanton said that while YouTube and Google were aware that users uploaded copyrighted material to the website, it was not aware which clips were added with permission and which were not.

Unwilling to concede victory, Viacom said it will try to have these issues heard by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible.

Gleacher and Co analyst Ben Schachter noted that financial analysts should view the victory as a “meaningful positive” at a time when the company is being hounded by regulators over its Street View Wi-Fi spying incident and allegations of anti-competitiveness.

“The manner in which copyrighted content will be distributed, monetized and protected online will continue to evolve, and will remain critically important for Google, which, as a platform owner, is not primarily in the content creation business,” Schachter wrote.

Advert Plans

This also paves the way for YouTube to ramp its video ad plans, which have evolved over the last three years from simple in-video advertising to paid video contracts.

YouTube had to be careful how it monetized video during the case as it wouldn’t do to make money on top of copyrighted content while a judgement was in consideration.

The Financial Times noted YouTube limited ads to videos covered by agreements with content owners, adding:

“Judge Stanton explicitly concludes, however, that YouTube need not worry about placing advertisements on copyright-infringing content by mistake, just as long as it doesn’t have specific knowledge of the infringements.”

In other words, time for Google to rev YouTube’s ad engines.