Young Americans Have Fallen In Love With Streaming Video, Thanks To YouTube And Other Video File Sharing Websites

Today, Nearly 100 Million Americans Have Streamed Some Form Of Video Content Online, According To Ipsos Insight’s Latest MOTION Study

Monday, April 02, 2007

New York, NY — While Americans still love their TVs for watching television programming and DVDs, it appears that online video offerings accessed on the PC have tapped a vein with mainstream America as well. At the end of 2006, well over half (58%) of Americans age 12 or older with Internet access had streamed some form of video content online, this according to recent findings released by Ipsos Insight from MOTION - the company’s biannual study of digital video behaviors. This translates to 44% of the overall US population age 12 or older having ever streamed a digital video file off of the Internet – or approximately 100 million Americans. “Clearly the YouTube phenomenon has caught on with Americans, and given their appetite for video, the ability to select and watch exactly what you want online has become a strong lure for many consumers. And it’s instant gratification for entertainment lovers,” said Brian Cruikshank, Executive Vice President of the Ipsos Insight Technology & Communications practice. “While streaming video online has clearly emerged as Americans’ favorite way to access video online, it also may be blazing a trail for other video formats and acquisition methods in the future.” Cruikshank goes further to point out that over one in four (28%) Americans age 12+ have downloaded a digital video file, with a significant amount of overlap between these two types of digital video formats – so many consumers who stream video also experiment with downloading video online.

Streaming Video Online Strongest Among Teens And Young Adults

Among those that stream video online, teens and young adults are the most likely to do so: three in four of all teens age 12-17 and young adults age 18-24 in the US have ever streamed digital video content online. Not only does the demographic of the typical video streamer skew younger, they are more likely to have higher incomes, and be highly educated, even more so than others with Internet access. When compared to those without Internet access, the differences are even more profound. As a result, the streaming market is key to delivering the audience that advertisers covet the most.

“Perhaps more impressive than simply how many young adults are currently tapping the Internet for their video entertainment, is that given how important it is for many marketers today to reach this group, we could be witnessing a tipping point in the evolution of digital video offerings online,” added Cruikshank. Indeed, this highly coveted audience appears to increasingly be watching digital video on their PC or on a portable device, while slowly eschewing more traditional ways to view and acquire video content. Today, teens and young adults, on average, have stored 20% of their entire video library either digitally (stored on a hard drive) and/or have burned this content onto DVD-R. So, while this still means most video libraries consist of purchased DVDs or are on VHS cassettes, the size of consumers’ digital video libraries will continue to grow as the streaming and downloading market matures.

Short Video Clips Trump Full-length Videos

Among the various types of video streams offered online, shorter video clips, such as those found on video file sharing sites like YouTube, are by far the most preferred type of video file accessed today by Internet users. In fact, three quarters of all digital video streamers have streamed short news or sports clips, while two thirds have streamed amateur or homemade video clips. The popularity of short video clips has been more than likely driven by the universal appeal of YouTube, as roughly 40% of those that have streamed or downloaded video content have accessed this site, many of whom have visited YouTube in the past 30 days. Other video file sharing sites such as MySpace and Google Video are also common destinations for video streamers, with about one in five ever having accessed these two sites overall. In addition, the streaming of movie and TV show trailers, as well as music videos, are also extremely prevalent among those that stream video content, although these types of digital video files have been relatively mainstream for years and do not seem be as influenced by the current YouTube phenomenon.

While short video clips have become the rage, most Americans still have never streamed or downloaded a full-length TV show or movie. However, despite the relatively low prevalence levels of downloading movies and TV shows among US adults today, many appear to find the idea appealing: 43% of all digital video downloaders and streamers express some level of interest in downloading full length movies in the near future, while 38% express interest in full length TV show downloads.

The most common barriers to downloading are users’ unwillingness to pay for this content, as well as a perceived difficulty or inability to burn these files onto DVD – presumably so users can watch this content on their living room TV. Concluded Cruikshank, “Obviously, with more technology coming onto the market facilitating the sharing of video files between PC and TV, some of today’s purchase barriers may soon begin to dissipate at some level. Yet, this also seems to illustrate the virtues inherent with streaming shorter video clips for today’s video enthusiasts: easy 24/7 access to preferred content for reasonable fees or free via entirely ad supported models.”


The MOTION Winter Wave study was conducted in two phases. A representative US sample of those 12 years of age and older was conducted in December of 2006 to determine the prevalence of digital video behaviors. A follow-up online study was conducted in January of 2007 among those 12 and older in the US that have downloaded or streamed video content online. The MOTION Winter Wave study examined:

  • The prevalence of digital video downloading and streaming among the US population, including the types of content (movies, TV shows, music videos, clips, etc.).
  • The awareness and usage of websites that offer digital video content and what is most important to consumers that visit these websites.
  • The amount of downloading that is fee-based and the reasons why they choose to pay or not pay.
  • The prevalence of other types of video related activities (movie theaters, TV watching, DVDs, rentals, Pay-Per-View, etc.) and how much of an impact digital video has on more traditional viewing.
  • The ownership, preferences and attitudes regarding technology as a whole, with a heavy emphasis on digital video.

To learn more about MOTION, please visit:

For more information on this press release, please contact:
Adam Wright
Ipsos Insight
(612) 573-8536

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Young Americans Have Fallen In Love With Streaming Video, Thanks To YouTube And Other Video File Sharing Websites


Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America