A few days after Viacom requested the removal of thousands of YouTube video clips featuring its content, my contact at YouTube assured me the loss of that Viacom video (including clips from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and MTV’s “Laguna Beach”) had not resulted in less traffic to YouTube.
I remained skeptical, though, thinking of all the people who were in the habit of visiting YouTube to watch Viacom stuff they hadn’t bothered to catch on TV the night before. Comments like one from a “South Park” fan also signaled less traffic for YouTube: “what are we suppossed [sic] to look at now, some dodgy footage of some friends filming themselves talk sh*t?”
Well, according to Hitwise, YouTube’s visitor numbers have not gone down since the Viacom request early this month. In fact, the site traffic measurement firm found that YouTube’s market share of US visits increased almost 14 percent in the two week period between weeks ending 2/3 and 2/17.
In addition, Hitwise said YouTube traffic surpassed that of the combined traffic to all the TV network sites, including CartoonNetwork.com, Disney Channel, ABC, NBC and Viacom properties MTV Online, VH1.com and Nickelodeon Online.
I guess, as others have purported, Viacom’s demand may have served to publicize YouTube, driving traffic from new, curious visitors. It’ll be interesting to watch to see if YouTube traffic is affected over the long term.