Online Video Viewing Trends

Metacafe recently commissioned a study to find out who in America is watching online video, how much and what kinds. The results were just released and might be surprising.

Metacafe asked Frank N. Magid Associates to do a new study on what kind of video people are watching online. A surprising 77% of U.S. Internet users are watching online video and 43% viewing something weekly. This was claimed to be 'critical mass' by the researchers though I can't really see why.

I think online video has already been sustaining itself for sometime so calling these numbers critical mass seems a mistake. Plus there's still more room for growth as far as I'm concerned. There's no reason to believe that no less than 100% of internet users will in the future watch some sort of video online and I'm sure the weekly viewers will top 50%. Of course that's me being the optimistic one.

Some numbers that brought a smile to my face in the study included the fact that 37% of users who watched video of a professional quality online (TV clips, movie trailers, sports highlights, music videos, short films, etc) found them as or more enjoyable than watching full length stuff on TV.

Of all respondents 41% found them to be 'somewhat' as entertaining which is a vague way to go about things if you as me. Does somewhat as entertaining mean more or less? I'm somewhat confused by the meaning of that. I guess just having more/less or the same amount as options would have been too easy.

The research was done in survey form and polled 1,927 people from age 12-64 this past April. The strongest demographic was males 18-24 where 70% said they watched something weekly. But that's not to say they are the only people out there watching it.

A full third of all respondents age 55-64 watched weekly online video and over one-third (34%) watch TV and surf the web simultaneously more than half the time. Couple that with 20% saying that they watch less TV because of online video and you can see a trend away from traditional broadcast TV and toward online video. Now I'm not saying broadcast TV is dead... I'm sure half of the video being watched online was originally aired on television including series, sports and more.

Nielsen on the other hand believes that both TV and online video viewing is growing. That might be true considering that people have had to cut back on external entertainment options like film, etc. Their latest Three Screen report states that people are watching 153 hours of TV while only taking in 3 hours of online video. Again, considering that most online video is far shorter than a standard television show or sporting event, this is really no surprise. However I do find the TV viewing alarmingly high. That means that people are watching 5 hours per day?

In regards to online video and ads, people have shown more acceptable (52%) in online video than in TV shows. On the negative side 20% said they didn't like it and 28% weren't sure. Considering that the majority of online video viewers has never lived through an era where television shows did not have ads I find these numbers strange. I wish they would report the consumers' reasoning behind this. Are they saying the ads are a good tradeoff so that they can watch the videos when they want, where they want?

While short-form, professional clips were favored, full-length shows like that of Hulu's offerings, are growing in favor. Hulu is still growing in both number of viewers and number of streams which was offered up as proof of this last statement. Other sites are showing increasingly longer videos with the average at Blip.tv being 14 minutes where most used to be under 5 minutes and there used to be a two-minute limit. Will YouTube look to boosting its time limit as well or will they prefer to stay in the short-form arena and let others take on the longer videos? Only time will tell but if this trend continues I think they will need to do so in order to survive.

About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/EHune EHune

    "There’s no reason to believe that no less than 100% of internet users will in the future watch some sort of video online and I’m sure the weekly viewers will top 50%. Of course that’s me being the optimistic one."

    Seriously, 100%? That would mean the blind, deaf and other people with accessibility issues would watch online videos as well, besides people who have poor connection speed or monthly download limit... Of course, you could claim a belief that all people with accessibility issues will have a cure with future technology/medicin and that connections are improving across the planet. However, there is still the issue of having interest in wasting time with video, while people are showing increasing interest in health across the globe instead of wanting to become "couch potatoes"

    I bid thee farewell, as I can't take this post seriously...

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristophorRick ChristophorRick

    Considering that nothing is 100% in life it was a metaphorical statement. They seemed to think that 40% was an awful lot. I don't. What I don't understand from your comment is

    "That would mean the blind, deaf and other people with accessibility issues would watch online videos as well"

    Technically at present, only the blind would have a problem with watching videos. The rest could easily do it, yes even the deaf, with these fancy things we call subtitles and closed captioning. In fact the blind could even experience the video via the sound so not so much watch as listen. So you're right my 100% might have been too large a number, I'll scale it back...

    There’s no reason to believe that no less than 99% of internet users will in the future watch some sort of video online and I’m sure the weekly viewers will top 50%. Of course that’s me being the optimistic one.

    Speaking of overstatements...I think your final line qualifies as well. Because you are dismissing an entire post based on one minor disagreement I am not sad to see you go...

    Good day :)

  • Daniel Sevitt

    Any chance of a link to the actual Magid report? They are usually pretty precise and you make them sound really wishy washy with the whole "somewhat" thing. Great post, though.

  • http://www.reelseo.com/about/mark/ Mark Robertson

    Daniel,

    Good idea.. Here it is. http://www.magid.com/metacafe.pdf

    Thanks for the props on the post... ;-)