We’ve known for some time that the number of people viewing online video is on the rise. With the expansion of broadband and high speed internet access, more people finally have the bandwidth to support video downloads. But where do we really stand?
In 2006, the number of Americans between the ages of 12 and 64 that viewed online video content every day was 9 percent. This year however, that number has grown to 14 percent and could end up being higher. Frequency of viewing online video also is on the rise. Last year, 44 percent of 12 to 64 year-olds watched video online at least once a week. This year – that number is up to 52 percent.
YouTube is driving much of the rise in online video consumption with 20 million or more viewers per month watching over 100 million video clips per day (Let’s just not forget there are numerous providers of video content, including Yahoo!). Though YouTube and others provide some news content, they traditionally reach audiences interested in viewing comedy and what some may call “fringe” or alternative content (like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, which has reemerged as a cult favorite online), as well as those posting personalized content as opposed to news and special interest stories – a backbone of most television programming.
In point of fact, research demonstrates that the most popular video downloads on the Internet are news and special interest stories, with comedy, television programming, movie clips / previews, and weather the next most popular selections.
This means that the interests of Americans who view video online plays directly into the strengths of television stations, which have access to video content that they produce, as well as the ability to offer network and audience produced content that may not normally be aired in regular programming cycles.
Another facet to the trend of people viewing video online includes the growth of people who are online while they watch television. According to a study conducted by the Solutions Research Group (highlighted in a recent Time magazine article), 37 percent of the US population over the age of 12 use their computers while they watch television. This means that close to 100 million Americans are multitasking – shifting between watching television and online computer use. Other research shows that the longer people use the Internet (in numbers of years they have been online), the more their television viewing decreased. Though the time spent online per day remains less than total time watching television, such a trend represents viewers lost from television stations’ over the air service, but in fact they could be recaptured with on-demand and download Internet based services delivered to the computer.
One way to both maximize the trend towards online video viewership and combat declining market share and audience is to implement a desktop application or widget to deliver video and other programming directly to the computer desktop. Desktop applications and widgets are particularly effective in driving viewers to a station’s website, because they offer one click access to any portion of a website. Desktop applications reside on the computer desktop of a specific viewer giving a television station the ability to stream video and audio content directly to the desktop, as well as alert messages, RSS feeds, weather, and other forms of content. This has the effect of creating a communication bridge between the station and the viewer whenever the viewer is online.Once the communication bridge has been established, a desktop application or widget can then drive viewers back to a station’s website for additional breaking news, severe weather bulletins, school closings, community updates or contest and promotional information.
Given the growth of online video consumption by Americans, the growing trend of multitasking between television and online viewership, and the possible decline in television viewing in favor of Internet use, television stations have the opportunity to enhance their online presence by delivering interactive content through desktop applications that also help to funnel these viewers back to their websites.