Yahoo! Bumps Vevo To #3 In Online Video Rankings
A deal to stream ABC News video helped Yahoo! overtake Vevo for second place in the U.S. online video rankings for February, according to comScore. Google sites had 16.7 billion video streams, Yahoo! sites had 721.4 million and Vevo had 697 million. Yahoo! also overtook Vevo in total unique viewers (60.9 million to 52 million) and minutes per view (67.8 to 60.5). U.S. Internet users watched almost 38 billion online videos in February, according to comScore.

Yahoo! and ABC News entered into their partnership in October. The deal, which includes content from " Good Morning America," accounted for 410 million of the 814 million news videos streamed by U.S. Internet users in February and put Yahoo!-ABC news far ahead of CNN and MSNBC.

Yahoo! numbers rose to 518.8 million streams, 50.4 million unique viewers and 50.7 minutes per user by November but was still behind Vevo in January.

Vevo is still the leader in music videos, and with 50.8 million unique viewers and 674.1 million streams was still YouTube's top channel partner in February, according to comScore (Warner Music Group is second with 29.9 million unique visitors and 185 million streams). Google sites - namely YouTube - is still the leader in online video with 16.7 billion streams to 147.4 million unique users. ( comScore press release)

Hasting Entertainment Posts Revenue Loss
Music was down 9.8% in Hasting Entertainment's fiscal fourth quarter ended January 31 and dropped 4.5% for the entire fiscal year. The company posted a net loss of $17.6 million on revenue of $496 million compared to the prior year's net profit of $1.7 million on revenue of $521 million. ( Hastings earnings release)

Merlin CEO Charles Caldas Voices Indie Opposition To Universal-EMI Deal
Indies are lining up in opposition of Universal Music Group's acquisition of EMI Music and laying out their arguments against the merger. Charles Caldas, CEO of independent rights group Merlin, writes at GigaOm the one thing successful digital music services have in common is "a truly comprehensive repertoire from all labels - major and independent - to an ever-increasing and loyal client base." The implication is that a digital music service can be held hostage when Universal Music Group refuses to license its music. But is a big catalog really a ticket to success?

Truth be told, some failed digital music services - Napster, Zune - had expansive music catalogs, too. These days, a large catalog that includes both majors and indies is just a starting point. It gets you in the game, but it doesn't dictate how well or poorly you will play the game. Nokia's Comes With Music had a large catalog but failed to offer the value and user experience consumers wanted. And while ad-supported download service SpiralFrog had a limited catalog of music, it's nearly impossible to imagine a robust catalog saving it from the ash heap of digital music failures.

Nor does it make sense to pin success on "an ever-increasing and loyal client base." That's like saying one thing all profitable companies have in common is revenue in excess of expenses, taxes and depreciation. It's a true statement, but it doesn't help explain why a company is able to be profitable in the first place. The more important question is exactly how a digital music service gets a loyal client base that grows over time. The latter is especially important: how does a music service grow beyond a loyal (which could mean loyal and small) client base?

If there is a correlation between size of catalog and success, it's probably best explained this way: a company with enough resources to acquire all the licenses for a large catalog of music also has the resources and organizational capacity to build a user-friendly, feature-rich product. It's probably not a coincidence that today's best digital music services are well-funded companies that have built the best products. If a company with limited resources skimps on the product, a large catalog won't save it. If the same company instead skimps on catalog, a great product won't save it.

Nevertheless, Caldas can't be blamed for worrying about the effects of a Universal Music Group-EMI Music merger. A greater market share would add to Universal's already hefty negotiating position. Independents, whose share of digital revenue exceeds their share of CD revenue, are understandably concerned that greater consolidation will limit digital growth and innovation. "Putting even more power in the hands of a company that already tries to shape legal music services to its own advantage probably won't lead to a consumer-friendly outcome," writes Caldas. ( GigaOm)