Online Video Viewers: The Young, the Rich, the Educated

The number of people that turn to the web for video entertainment continues to increase, with almost 70 percent of all US Internet users now watching videos online, according to new data from The Pew Research Center. But the research firm’s latest State of Online Video report shows much of that growth coming from Internet users that are young, educated and well-off.

According to the latest data, 69 percent of Internet users have used the web to watch or download online video, which equates to about half (52 percent) of all US residents. Since 2007 — the last time the survey was conducted — Pew notes that the growth in online video viewing has been driven primarily by adoption among young Internet users (those aged 18 to 29), 84 percent of which have copped to viewing or downloading videos online. That compares to 74 percent of Internet users aged 30 to 49 that say they’ve watched or downloaded online videos, and just 53 percent of Internet users aged 50 and above.

Online video viewing also is marked by those who are at least somewhat well-off. According to Pew, 78 percent of respondents with annual household income of $75,000 or more viewed or downloaded videos online, compared to 64 percent with income of $50,000 to $74,999 a year, and just 46 percent of respondents who had annual household income of less than $50,000. That could be due at least in part to higher broadband penetration among those who can afford it; according to the survey, 89 percent of online video viewers have broadband video access.

The percentage of users that had at least some college education was also disproportionately higher than those who did not. The Pew survey found that 75 percent of respondents that had graduated college, as well as 75 percent of those with some college education, watched online video. That compares with just 57 percent of Internet users that were high school grads or lower that viewed or downloaded online video.

While identifying the types of consumers most likely viewing online video, the study also identified some shifts in the types of online videos that are being watched now, as opposed to a few years ago. The biggest shift came in the number of viewers who turn to the Internet for comedy or humorous videos, growing from a third to half of all Internet viewers in just two years. In that time, funny videos supplanted news videos, which grew modestly from 37 percent to 43 percent. Also popular were educational videos, which 38 percent of Internet users now watch (compared to 22 percent in 2007), and movies and TV shows, which have jumped from being watched by just 16 percent of Internet users, to 32 percent in two years time.

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