Fully 62% of adult internet users have watched online video on a video-sharing website, a figure that has nearly doubled from 33% in 2006, according to a research report (pdf) from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project, which also found that 19% of online adults use video-sharing sites on a typical day (compared with 8% in 2006).
The April 2009 survey found that video watching among young adults is near-universal, with nine in 10 (89%) internet users ages 18-29 now saying they view content on video-sharing sites (up from 72% in 2008), and 36% do so on a typical day.
Online Moves in on TV
While much of the content on video-sharing sites is still user-generated, a growing archive of professional content is becoming increasingly available through YouTube and network-sponsored video portals such as Hulu, Pew reported. In response, more than one-third (35%) of internet users now say they have viewed a TV show or movie online. This compares with just 16% of internet users who had watched or downloaded movies or TV shows in 2007.
Among those who have watched TV/movies online, young adults lead the way, with 61% of internet users ages 18-29 reporting they watch TV shows and movies online. This compares with 32% of those ages 30-49, 22% of users ages 50-64 and just 11% those ages 65+.
On a typical day, the same age-related trends emerge: 16% of young adult internet users say they watch TV and movies online, compared with just 6% of those ages 30-49, 2% of the 50-64 group and 1% of wired seniors.
Among those who watch TV shows or movies online, 23% say they have connected their computer to a TV screen so they could view video from the internet on their TV. That amounts to roughly 8% of all internet users. Men are nearly twice as likely to have done this, Pew said.
Video Outranks SocNets, Twitter
Pew noted that he use of video-sharing sites currently outranks many other online pastimes of American adults, though video viewing does not always get a proportionate amount of media attention. Watching online videos on sites such as YouTube and Google Video is more prevalent than the use of social networking sites (46% of adult internet users are active on such sites), podcast downloading (19% of internet users do this) and the use of microblogging tools such as Twitter (11% of internet users do this).
Growth Across all Age Groups
Online video viewing has grown across all age groups, the study found. Not surprisingly, young adults continue to lead the adoption curve in online video viewing, though adults ages 30-49 also showed big gains over the past year; 67% now use video-sharing sites, up from 57% in 2008.
Though internet video viewing is not the norm among online adults ages 50+, this segment of the internet audience continues to grow. Among internet users ages 50-64, 41% now say they watch video on sites such as YouTube, up from 34% in 2008. Likewise, 27% of wired seniors ages 65+ now access video on these sites, compared with just 19% last year.
Women Catching up to Men
Though men have typically been heavier consumers of online video, the share of online women who visit video-sharing sites has grown from 46% in 2008 to 59% in this latest survey, Pew said. This compares with 57% of male internet users who reported online video viewing in 2008 and 65% in 2009. On a typical day, online men are still more likely to have watched a video on sites like YouTube; 23% now report doing so compared with just 15% of online women.
There are now no significant differences across income or education groups when looking at the use of video-sharing sites, the study found.
Wireless, Mobile Use Growing
Viewing videos via wireless connections continues to grow and has emerged as a strong predictor of online video viewing, the research found. Fully 71% of those with wireless connectivity watch videos on video-sharing sites, compared with just 38%.
Interest is also growing somewhat in mobile video viewing. The data revealed that 14% of cell phone users have watched video on their devices, slightly up from 10% in 2007. Cellphone users are more likely to record video on their cell phones than they are to watch it; 19% of cell phone users now say they have recorded video with their phone.
Americans who have cut back on cable or TV expenses are more likely to watch online video on their televisions. According to Pew, 22% of American adults say they have cut back on their cable or television services over the course of the past 12 months. This compares with just 9% who have cut back on their internet service. Those who have canceled or cut back on cable and TV services are more likely to have “rerouted” their online video viewing to their TV screen. Among this economizing group of online video viewers, 32% have connected their computer to their TV screen to watch internet video.
Recent research from ChangeWave confirms this trend away from traditional TV, revealing that 44% of Baby Boomers would be willing to give up their subscription TV service in favor of watching programming on the internet.