Netflix Surges In Nielsen’s First Video Data In 7 Months

Welcome back, Nielsen, which publicly issued late Friday its first set of online video metrics since June 2010 due to computer glitches that undercounted data for most of last year, the company admitted in November. What’s most interesting about the fresh numbers is further evidence of just how massive Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) is becoming.

Netflix managed to crack the top 10 in both total video streams and unique viewers, which is pretty remarkable for a number of reasons. Let’s not forget Netflix is the only paid-for product on a list otherwise filled by free ad-supported entries like YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) and Vevo.

Even if Netflix were free, it’s delivering movies and TV shows that are exponentially longer to watch than most of the short-form video teeming on the free sites. And yet Netflix in January finished fifth on the list of total streams, delivering 200,000 videos (up a whopping 38% over the previous month). Netflix also saw a sizable month-over-month increase (16%) in unique viewers (7.4 million), a hair behind all of Fox Interactive Media (NSDQ: NWS).

What hasn’t changed since June is Netflix’s first-place finish in the time per viewer category (see chart below). The average U.S. video viewer spent 11 hours, 8 minutes watching video on Netflix, nearly twice what No. 2 Tudou (6:30) managed. Hulu was No. 3 (5:35).

Few put much stock in the accuracy of online measurement from third-party companies, but these a pretty staggering stats comparatively speaking. Not since Sandvine reported that Netflix accounted for about one-fifth of all U.S. downstream traffic have we seen this kind of data.

A spokeswoman for Nielsen said that accurate video data is also available for November and December 2010, but that there was no particular reason it wasn’t made public. (For some reason Netflix doesn’t show up in Comscore (NSDQ: SCOR) numbers.)

Nielsen also distributed its first web traffic numbers since March 2010. One interesting stat for the news category: No. 4 AOL (NYSE: AOL) News (22 million) and No. 9 Huffington Post (13.3 million) combined is only enough to pull AOL up one notch, displacing MSNBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) (32.5 million) but not CNN Digital Network (37 million) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) News (46.3 million).