We’ve all been closely watching the total user number for MySpace and Facebook and trying to predict the date that MySpace’s last stronghold will fall – no. 1 in U.S. social networking users. A year ago Facebook had super growth around the world, but U.S. growth was flat and we pondered the real value of all these worldwide users. At that time it would have taken Facebook more than four years to catch up to MySpace in the U.S. In January we re-ran the numbers and the trend suggested January 2010. Today that has all dramatically changed – MySpace has 70 million monthly U.S. uniques (Comscore, March 2009), less than they did a year ago. Meanwhile, Facebook has surged to 61 million U.S. users and are adding a few million more every month.
In other words, the war is over. MySpace user number growth has stalled out, and historically speaking, no company of note has reversed such a trend. But MySpace may have a much bigger problem on its hands than losing the social networking war to Facebook. Their real problem is that page views are declining sharply. That means people are still visiting the site, just far less than they used to. That means less advertising impressions in a time that MySpace can hardly be expected to deal with it.
Worldwide monthly page views for MySpace have declined from 47.4 billion a year ago to 38 million today, a 20% drop. In that same period Facebook has grown from 44 billion to 87 billion, a roughly 100% increase. And it isn’t much better when you look at just the U.S. data. They’ve seen a 16% year over year drop in page views, from 41.6 billion to 34.8 billion (Comscore, April 2009). Facebook has grown from 13 billion to 20 billion page views per month in that period.
MySpace is a battleship that’s going in the wrong direction at high speed. It’s hard to turn a battleship. Perhaps even impossible in this case.
In about a year from now MySpace will receive their last welfare payment from Google, and they’ll be on their own. They’ll have a social network that costs half a billion dollars a year to run. With page views decreasing and the Google money gone there is a strong likelihood that the News Corp. subsidiary will be unprofitable a year from now. Revenue of $800+ million last year could easily decrease to well below half a billion dollars, and likely will. No wonder new CEO Owen Van Natta isn’t committing to actually move to Los Angeles, where MySpace is headquartered.