Ask any TV exec if online video is affecting his business, and he’ll likely tell you video streams continue to be complementary rather than cannibalistic to live TV. But that may soon change, as a new study from Yahoo (s YHOO) shows that online video viewing is increasingly happening during primetime viewing hours, and more of that video is full-length TV and movie content.
Previously, online video was mainly a workplace distraction, with viewers watching short, funny clips or live sporting events like the NCAA March Madness tournament online. After the workday was over, those viewers would go home and tune into live TV on the big screen. But that behavior has changed, likely due to the wider availability of TV shows and movies online through services like Netflix (s NFLX) and Hulu.
As you can see from the above graph, viewers are spending less time watching online video during the day. But rather than the deep valley online video faced during primetime hours just two years ago, viewership online now actually peaks around 9 p.m.: the same time broadcasters air their most valuable TV properties. In fact, when asked if they had watched online video in the last 24 hours, almost half of all respondents said they had during primetime hours.
The rise in online video is due in part to the growth of premium online video services. The number of respondents who said they streamed from Netflix in the previous 24 hours had grown 200 percent, and those who had streamed from Hulu grew 67 percent during that time. But it’s not just broadcast TV programming moved online seeing a boost in primetime viewing. The Yahoo report mirrors finding from web original video distributor Blip.tv, which said last year that its viewership had shifted from daytime viewing to early-evening viewing.
At the same time, the amount of full-length TV and movie content people watched increased dramatically. While about three-quarters of all online video watched is still short-form clips, full-length TV shows accounted for 18 percent of online viewing, compared to 11 percent in 2009. And full-length movies made up 8 percent of online viewing, up from 5 percent two years ago.