NEW DELHI: Online video viewing levels continue to rise in India, with the channel's popularity driven in part by the Cricket World Cup held in the country earlier this year.

Research firm comScore reported that 31.9m people watched online video during March 2011, a figure representing nearly 75% of the Asian nation's web population.

The average participant watched 58.4 videos, and pursued such an activity for roughly 5.5 hours.

Google's portfolio of sites, which includes YouTube, received 24.7m visitors, collectively playing back 814m pieces of material, and spending 106.3 minutes each on its pages.

Facebook claimed second, boasting an 11.8m-strong audience that enjoyed 96.4m bits of content, and typically dedicating 22.3 minutes to using the social network for this reason.

Yahoo drew in 4.8m netizens, and the "normal" member of this group viewed 7.5 videos for a combined 25.8 minutes.

In fourth place was Metacafe, delivering a user base of 3.5m individuals, streaming a total of 28.5m clips from its catalogue, and logging a general usage time of 34.1 minutes.

ESPN attracted 3.3m sports fans, watching 27.5m articles of content, and securing a dwell time of 138.6 minutes, a shift almost wholly attributable to the Cricket World Cup.

In further demonstration of this process in action, sports websites as a category saw visitor numbers climb from 563,000 in January to 4.1m in March.

Similarly, the amount of items consumed leapt from 3.4m to 37.1m in the same period, and the minutes per person metric more than trebled, coming in at just over two hours.

"Online video became an important viewing channel during this year's Cricket World Cup," Joe Nguyen, comScore's vice president for Southeast Asia, said.

"The ability to watch matches and replay coverage from the convenience of one's home or work computer provided a way for fans to continually be a part of the tournament.

"As streaming quality continues to improve with continued deployment of broadband across the country, we expect online video to play an increasingly important role in major sports events."

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff