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Pew: Video Sharing Sites Go Mainstream

  |  January 9, 2008   |  Comments

Video sharing sites have moved past their early adopter phase and been adopted by the broader public over the past year, according to a Pew study.

The popularity of video sharing sites continues to grow as more of the American public spends time on YouTube and other similar destinations. A study released by Pew Internet & American Life Project finds the number of Web users who watch video online grew 45 percent between late 2006 and late 2007.

Forty-eight percent of Internet users now visit video sharing Web sites, up from 33 percent in a previous study in 2006. "The grand story here is how the material is mainstreaming," said Lee Rainie, director at the Pew Institute & American Life Project.

The report attributes that sharp increase in adoption to a combination of factors, including the spread of broadband and the growing catalog of content on YouTube and comparable sites. Over the past year broadband at home grew from 45 percent of American households to 54 percent.

"What we see with broadband, once people get used to it, invest in it, and figure out what it means in their lives, the Internet becomes a much more central utility in their life," Rainie said. As much as it is a utility, he added the Internet can also function as a diversion, entertainment channel, or vehicle of enlightenment.

The sheer volume and range of content is a draw for many, particularly as the caliber of video talent extends beyond the amateur. Rainie noted professors post lectures, Ministers film sermons, and other instructional videos find their way to various sites. In addition, professional content including music videos, TV and movie clips are posted and viewed. Clearly, he said, what's behind the growth is partly the technology and "partly that there's a lot more stuff to enjoy."

The demographic characteristics of those who peruse YouTube have broadened. The percentage of women who view videos on an average day increased from 5 percent to 11 percent in the past year, a 120 percent jump. Additionally, more of those between 30 and 49 have added viral video to their media routines. The percentage of people in that age range grew from 7 percent in 2006 to 14 percent by the end of 2007, a 100 percent increase.

Video is populated by a smaller pool of U.S. adults. Twenty-two percent of Americans shoot their own video, and 14 percent post their videos online. The percentage of Internet users posting videos has tripled since an earlier study taken in the first quarter of 2006.

"Part of the supply side of the story is that the technology used to create videos has become easy to use, and less expensive," said Rainie. He adds that so many cell phones have video capabilities; filming video is "is now a highly spontaneous act in many cases."

The data are from a survey of 2,054 American adults. It was conducted between October 24 and December 2, 2007. Of those surveyed, 1,359 Internet users were asked questions pertaining to video-sharing.

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Enid Burns

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