June 3, 2010

The State of Online Video

69% of adult internet users, or roughly half of all U.S. adults (52%), have used the internet to watch or download video, with 18-29 year-olds leading the way.  Comedy video has supplanted news video as the most viewed type of video online

14% of adult internet users have uploaded a video to the internet, an increase over the 8% of internet users who were uploading in 2007 

WASHINGTON – Seven in ten adult internet users (69%) have used the internet to watch or download video. That represents 52% of all adults in the United States.

Moreover, video creation has now become a notable feature of online life. One in seven adult internet users (14%) have uploaded a video to the internet.

Driven by the popularity of online video among 18-29 year-olds, there have been dramatic increases since 2007 in the number of American adults watching:

  • Comedy or humorous videos, rising in viewership from 31% of adult internet users in 2007 to 50% of adult internet users in the current survey
  • Educational videos, rising in viewership from 22% to 38% of adult internet users
  • Movies or TV show videos, rising in viewership from 16% to 32% of adult internet users
  • Political videos, rising in viewership from 15% to 30% of adult internet users

“We are seeing a surge in online video watching that is driven by a combination of broadband access, the increasing use of social networking sites, and the popularity of video-sharing sites,” explains Kristen Purcell, Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and author of the report.  “To tap into these trends, untold numbers of websites now showcase online video as part of their content.”   

Adding to that content are the 14% of adult internet users who have uploaded their own video to the internet.  That figure is almost double the 8% of internet users who were uploading video in 2007. 

Home video is far and away the most popular content posted online, shared by 62% of video uploaders.  And uploaders are just as likely to share video on social networking sites like Facebook (52% do this) as they are on more specialized video-sharing sites like YouTube (49% do this). 

While video-sharing is growing in popularity, adult internet users have mixed feelings about how broadly they want to share their own creations.  While 31% of uploaders say they “always” place restrictions on who can access their videos, 50% say they “never” restrict access. The remaining 19% fall somewhere in the middle. 

Purcell explains, “People are increasingly enthusiastic about the opportunity to share their own video content online, but there’s a lot of variation in terms of how people control access to the videos they post, who they think is watching, and concern about how their video might be used.”

The survey reveals that among video uploaders, there is almost universal appreciation for the ease with which video-sharing sites allow them to share video with family and friends.  But a considerable number (35%) also feel they should be more careful about what they post.  And while 39% of uploaders express the belief that only people they know will see the videos they post, an equal number (41%) say they are surprised by the number of people who watch their videos.  Another 28% say that sharing videos online has helped them meet new people.

This report is based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between June 18-21, 2009 among a sample of 1,005 adults, 18 and older.  For results based on the total sample of adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.  For results based on internet users (n=763), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. 


About the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.