Pew: Online Video Viewership Reaches Critical Mass

Is online video-watching officially the future of TV consumption? According to an April 2009 survey released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project this week, the number of adult Internet users who watch videos online has nearly doubled since 2006. That means that, today, 62 percent of all online folks have watched a YouTube video or a clip on Hulu, up from 33 percent three years ago. A whole 89 percent of Internet users aged 18 to 29 have seen video on those video sites. Take a look at the most popular Hulu TV shows (The Daily Show, Family Guy, etc.) and movies, and the demographics match up just right.

According to the study, watching online videos on sites like YouTube is even more popular than browsing around on social networking sites like Facebook (46 percent of adult Web users are on there, according to Pew), downloading podcasts and updating Twitter!

But wait, none of this means that regular TV will be obsolete any time soon. These stats basically say that more people are watching videos online, but they’re mostly talking about a clip or two here and there, passed by a friend in an email. More than a third of Internet users (35 percent) have watched a TV show or movie online, according to the study—but that could be just one or two shows since they’ve had access to the Internet. 

And older folks are still resisting—although they’re starting to indulge. Among those surveyed between the ages of 50 and 64, 41 percent have watched videos on sites like YouTube, which is up from 34 percent last year. Likewise, 27 percent of wired seniors ages 65 and older now access video on these sites, compared with just 19 percent who were doing so at this time last year.

New software from companies like Boxee and partnerships with online video distribution sites like are continuing to bring more Web content into TV boxtops—so pretty soon there might have to be a redefinition of what is “online video viewing” and “TV video viewing.” As for the future of our living rooms? Stay tuned.

Pew: Online Video Viewership Reaches Critical Mass