It’s summertime, but that hasn’t put a dent in Americans’ insatiable appetite for online video. In the month of June, over 10 billion videos were streamed in the U.S. alone, a 1.3 percent increase over the same period last year. YouTube accounted for the majority of the streaming traffic, with Yahoo, Hulu and Google scoring high marks as well. Facebook, which broke into the streaming top 10 in May with 245 million video streams, continued to grow in popularity. According to media research provider Nielsen, approximately 136.2 million Americans streamed online during June, or about 75 streams per viewer on average.
While male video streamers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada outrank female viewers by a slight margin, a report entitled “How Women Are Shaping the Internet” from digital-marketing firm comScore suggests that in many other regions, streaming is equally popular among men and women; in Germany and Hong Kong, slightly more women watched videos online than men. In all regions, women strongly prefer YouTube: In the U.S. alone, YouTube accounts for nearly 36 percent of all female online viewing, compared to 22 percent of male streamers.
By and large, online viewing remains a youth-dominated sport, with 18- to 24-year-olds leading the pack, followed closely by 25- to 34-year-olds and teens.
So vast is the online video boom that analysts believe that streaming will surpass traditional television viewing sooner than later. In its new report, “The Economics of Over-the-Top TV Delivery: How Television Networks Can Shift to Online Content Delivery,” the Diffusion Group (TDG) found that online video increased 84 percent during 2008-2009, during which time TV viewing remained relatively static. This discrepancy is expected to become even more pronounced over the next several years, says TDG.
“The total amount of time spent watching video from all sources, including PayTV and Internet video, will hold constant during the next 10 years at around 32 hours a week,” says Colin Dixon, senior partner and co-author of the TDG report. “With online video usage accelerating, we expect the amount of Internet video watched to eclipse the amount of live broadcast TV around 2020.” As the Internet and the broadcast delivery of video content become increasingly intertwined, consumers “will be unaware of which conduit serves which content,” says Dixon. “Because so much of their audience will be consuming online, it is more important than ever that cable and broadcast channels increase their presence online.”
Not only are viewers spending more time online, the content they’re watching is becoming increasingly longer. So says a separate survey from eMarketer, which sees outlets such as the increasingly popular Hulu serving as the gateway for online concerts, movies and other long-form entertainment programming, particularly as the supporting technology continues to evolve.
“If the first iteration of online video was about silly pet tricks on YouTube, the next wave will be about professionally produced full-length content such as TV shows, movies and live sports,” notes eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna. “This shift will be propelled by a combination of technology integration, demographics and a growing comfort level with the idea of watching video hosted on websites.”