Watching online videos rapidly becoming the norm, studies find

A pair of new studies underscores the popularity of online videos, and show a growing generation gap in who’s watching them.

New research by the New York Times has found 34 percent of millennials watch mostly online video or no broadcast TV at all. That’s compared to 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, for Generation X and Baby Boomers. Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1980 and 2000.

The research found — not surprisingly — that video-hosting sites, such as YouTube, were the most popular places to watch videos (63 percent), followed by social networks (44 percent), TV sites (29 percent) and news sites (28 percent). Funny video clips were the most popular subject, followed by movies and movie trailers, music videos, news, how-to videos and TV shows. The study found most viewers watched online “to be entertained,” even when it came to news.

That finding was backed by a separate survey Thursday by the Pew Institute, which tracked online viewing habits. The Pew study found 78 percent of American adults watch online videos, up from 69 percent in 2009. Like the Times study, comedy videos were found to be  the most popular, watched by 58 percent of adults, followed by how-to videos (56 percent), educational (50 percent), music (50 percent) and news (45 percent). Just 12 percent of adults — though 25 percent of men — said they watched porn videos, thought Pew noted that number is actually likely to be larger.

Fifty-eight percent of adults 18-49 watched videos on social networking sites, though just 26 percent of those 50 and older could say the same.

The Pew report found viewing is being driven by video-sharing sites, such as YouTube, which are used by 72 percent of adults, up from 33 percent in 2006. About half of those who watch online videos also post their own — 31 percent of adults, double the number from just four years ago.  And what are they posting? Well, as any Facebook user knows, mostly boring things: 58 percent said videos of themselves or friends doing “everyday stuff,” followed by them “doing funny things,” events they attended and pets being cute.

Pew attributed the rise in online video-posting largely to the smartphone boom, which has made shooting and posting videos easy. The study found 41 percent cell phone owners record video, 40 percent watch video on their phones and 20 percent post videos online.


Top photo by Associated Press


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