The number of unique visitors viewing video on Facebook totaled 45 million in March 2012, an 8 percent decline compared to March 2011, according to comScore's U.S. online video rankings.
Google sites, which include YouTube, drew the highest number of unique viewers of all websites: 146.1 million in March 2012, an increase of 2.9 million compared to the same time last year.
Overall, the average viewer watched 21.7 hours of online video content in March 2012, according to comScore. On Google sites, people watched an average of 7.1 hours and on Hulu, 4.6 hours - the highest among the top 10 video content properties.
A comparison of comScore data for March 2011 versus March 2012 also showed that Yahoo's online video rankings had an 8 percent increase in unique viewers and a 72 percent increase in average minutes per viewer.
During 2011, Yahoo expanded its online video programming on several fronts, according to the company's annual report. For instance, it launched MLB.com Full Count which allows fans to follow Major League Baseball action throughout the regular season. It also introduced original, premium web shows on Yahoo Screen.
AOL said the comScore data is not consistent with its audience data. "Our video views and unique visitors, according to our internal data, are going up consistently in the last two years. And I don't have access to comScore numbers," said Ran Harnevo, SVP, video, for the AOL on Network. ComScore data shows that AOL video had 38.7 million unique visitors in February 2011, 57 million in March 2011, and 40.1 million in April 2011; it's not clear what accounted for such a wide fluctuation over those three months.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also experienced a sharp decline in unique video visitors - 22 percent year-over-year in March.
Online Video Rankings in the United States, March 2012
|Property||March 2012 Total unique viewers (000)||Year-over-year change||March 2012 Minutes per viewer||Year-over-year change|
|Comcast NBC Universal||32,164||4%||36.9||113%|
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Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.