Facebook LogoFacebook is rapidly becoming more of a player in the online video sector. In the U.S., it’s actually fifth behind YouTube (naturally), Yahoo, Fox, and Vevo for unique viewers.

And the future looks to be heading in Facebook’s way. And how.

The Ubiquitous Facebook

It’s no secret that Facebook is now huge, with an estimated 500 million members. And the recent privacy row doesn’t seem to have reduced the popularity of Facebook in the slightest. In fact, the publicity (however negative) may have given the site a boost.

Facebook isn’t just growing in popularity, with the way people use the site also evolving. While keeping up with friends is still important, Facebook is also becoming a prime destination for sharing media content, including online video.

Facebook Video

Facebook has been growing as a video destination for a while now, but it really began motoring last November when it leaped into third place overall with over 31 million viewers.

Although it’s since dropped back to fifth, its viewer numbers have continued to grow. The latest comScore figures show Facebook now boasts over 41 million viewers. Which puts it ahead of the likes of Microsoft, Hulu, and CBS.

Facebook has experienced a stunning 211 percent increase year-on-year since April 2009, when it racked up 13.3 million viewers.

Hosting Vs. Sharing

It’s important to note that the comScore figures only count videos hosted by Facebook itself. Wheres the vast majority of video content viewed on the social networking site is hosted by YouTube and then merely embedded on Facebook. Which actually benefits the Google-owned site.

NewTeeVee is now reporting that Facebook actually gets around 2 billion video views a month, with 20 million videos being uploaded to the site. Which further cements Facebook’s incredible and seemingly unwavering rise to (near) the top.

Conclusions

If Facebook video viewer numbers continue to grow at their current rate then the social network will take the second spot behind YouTube by the end of this year.

Which suggests there is a sea change happening in online video – with social networking sites becoming increasingly important. Will they ever become more important than YouTube itself? Possibly. Which is a scary thought.

[Via ClickZ]

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