Probably one of the most important benchmarks for online video, in my opinion, was the study conducted by TNS and the Conference Board last year that found 16 percent of American Internet households watch TV broadcasts online. That seemed pretty impressive at the time, especially given that it pre-dated the existence of Hulu along with widespread promotion of other network’s streaming offerings. It signaled that there was a real audience for premium entertainment on the PC screen.
Well, perhaps as expected, but certainly as an important milestone, that number is now larger: “Nearly one-fifth” of American Internet households watch TV broadcasts online, according to a release put out by the two firms today. So assuming the number is something on the order of 19 percent, it’s actually not that dramatic of an increase year-on-year. (We’ve asked if they can send over a more precise percentage. The firms do say this year’s figure is double what they measured two years ago.)
In its study of 10,000 households, TNS and the Conference Board found that of those who watch TV online, 43 percent tune into the news, the most popular category. Thirty-nine percent watch drama shows, 34 percent sitcom/comedy shows, 23 percent reality shows, 16 percent sports, and 15 percent user-generated content.
Almost nine out of ten online TV viewers watch online broadcasts at home, while 15 percent watch from their office. Some 68 percent of online TV watchers stream video, while 38 percent utilize free downloads (Meaning illegitimate downloads, I assume. Most places offering authorized downloads, like iTunes, do it for a fee.) The top streaming destinations are official TV sites, with 65 percent of viewers, and YouTube, with 41 percent.