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Viacom Disputes Vidmeter YouTube Study

In a Reuters story, Viacom responded to the findings of the Vidmeter study that concluded that Viacom content only accounted for a small fraction of YouTube’s video views.  Seconding some of the comments on this site, Viacom said the study’s conclusion was misleading because it only accounted for content that has been removed from YouTube at the copyright owners’ request.  Viacom says the study undercounts the amount of pirated content “by a significant margin.”

That the study undercounts big media content is almost certain.  As the Reuters story notes, South Park and other videos are still available on YouTube.  Given that the study concluded that such content only amounted to 9% of overall YouTube videos and 6% of views, however, the margin of undercounting could be “significant” without being particularly meaningful.  Even if Viacom’s content accounts for five times the “1% of YouTube videos” the Vidmeter study reported, for example, Viacom’s overall percentage of YouTube videos would still be in single digits.

Also, the fact that some Viacom content can be found on YouTube today does not necessarily mean that it was there before the 100,000 Viacom videos were removed.  Some of this content, no doubt, was “restored” to YouTube after the initial removal.  It is conceivable, therefore, that the total percentage of Viacom-content views on YouTube today is less than it was before the videos were removed (in contrast to what Viacom suggests).

The most likely answer, in my opinion, is that the Vidmeter study undercounts big media content on YouTube, but not by enough to matter.  Even if the undercounting is truly “significant,” the percentage of videos owned by anyone major media company is likely small.  Google, moreover, has successfully signed distribution deals with a few major media companies and hundreds of small ones.  It will likely continue to sign more–until not having one’s content on YouTube becomes even more of a competitive disadvantage than it is already today.

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