Sony’s $65 million deal to acquire opens the door for other acquisitions in the space. And many people think YouTube, the dominant player, might be one of them.

At this point, though, a YouTube acquisition would be an expensive proposition. The site’s popularity has exploded in recent months, both among Internet users and advertisers, and its market value has been rumored to be as high as $1 billion.

There’s no doubt that the category is growing quickly. As of May 2006, was the eighth most visited online video site, according to data from Hitwise.

A posting about the acquisition on the GigaOm blog indicates that Grouper has been growing in recent months. The posting reported that "Hitwise data shows that has increased its market share of web visits by 1,678% from January 2006 to July 2006. Comparing the week ending August 19, 2006 versus the week ending January 7, 2006 has increased its market share of visits by 1,144%."

As of February 2006, 93% of Internet users surveyed by the Online Publishers Association were aware of online video and 46% said they watch online video at least once a month.

And between October 2005 and March 2006, the average time spent watching online video in the US grew from 85 minutes to 100 minutes, comScore Networks reported.

The market for online video advertising is shaping up to be quite strong. Though in its infancy — accounting for 2.3% of total US online ad spending, according to eMarketer — the dollar value of online video advertising is projected to grow to $2.35 billion in 2010, from $385 million in 2006.