Paul McCartney topped the charts in 1999, although it wasn't any of his songs or records that made it to number one. The ex-Beatle's performance at The Cavern in Liverpool last December drew more viewers than any other interactive video event of the year, according to a new report from DB&P/Webcast Track.
The report, says an analyst for the company, supports a conclusion that the time for interactive video has arrived.
"Are people willing to watch video on their PCs?" asks Paul Palumbo, a research analyst for DB&P/Webcast Track, a division of the Monterey, California-based DFC Intelligence. "The answer is clearly yes."
The 150-plus-page report tracked audience activity at Internet sites that feature streamlined video - both live and archived. While Paul McCartney's live performance at the Cavern December 14 drew 1 million "streams," over the next six days, the archived video, requested on-demand, drew 5 million. Also among the top ten were the Netaid global benefit concert (2.5 million), the John F. Kennedy Jr. tragedy (2.4 million), Hurricane Floyd (750,000), Woodstock 1999 (650,000), and a special "Drew Cam" episode of the Drew Carey Show (650,000).
On average, Palumbo said, 18-19 million streamlined videos were viewed online every month last year, including everything from lengthy special events like the McCartney show, to short news clips at sites such as CNN.
"If you look at what's happening, passivity is decreasing and activity is increasing," said Palumbo. "That can happen in many forms. We're seeing the visual experience becoming more customized and enhanced. The notion that audiences have to serve producers when it's convenient for the producers is diminishing."
Since 1999 was the first full year when data were tracked, no statistical comparisons are available to previous years. Interesting to note, while the total number of "streams" appears to be markedly up, the average number of streams per event actually decreased by 26 percent from 1998 to 1999. Palumbo attributes this to the fact that there were more events to watch, the novelty having worn off somewhat.
"The dynamic has completely changed," he said. "There was a lot to choose from."
The report predicts that the number of streamlined videos viewed online will continue to increase at a rate of 30-40 percent annually, he said. That growth is fueled by the increasing number of video "streams" offered by broadcast networks on their Web sites and at sites set up exclusive to show videos online. "With broadband," Palumbo said, "the visual experience will get better."
One thing Palumbo doesn't ever expect to see is the PC displacing the TV as the preferred viewing screen. Instead, he sees the two as enhancing one another. Perhaps there's no better example than the most popular streaming video site on the Internet. The World Wrestling Federation's WWF.com gets 4.5 million hits a month, he said.