The first Nielsen ratings for YouTube’s premium partners are out. Hurray! Well, not so fast. Turns out, we can use the ratings in much the same way a drunk uses a street light — more for support than illumination.
So what do the numbers tell us?
For starters, they support the claim that YouTube is the top online video destination. From a Nielsen blog post:
“To put this into context, YouTube continues to be the top online video destination in the U.S. with over 136 million unique viewers who streamed 16 billion videos during May 2012.”
But as Christophor Rick points out at ReelSEO, the exact numbers on YouTube are a little suspect.
“Surprisingly, the comScore videos number (17.6B) matches quite closely to the Nielsen streams number of 16.5B. Yet, the unique viewer numbers are off by a larger margin 136M to 151.6M. As far as I’m concerned what this all goes to show is that we, as an industry, need to demand two things from the largest providers of these monthly numbers; transparency and standardization.”
I’m all for transparency and standardization, too. But the Nielsen numbers don’t just raise questions about a disparity between comScore and Nielsen on the unique viewers metric. Unlike comScore, which seems focused on platforms, Nielsen’s numbers are tracking specific YouTube channels. And for me, that’s where the real trouble starts, because I’m not sure we can say with certainty which of the 100-plus YouTube partner channels is leading the pack. Here’s Nielsen’s top five YouTube partner channels: