Slow Modems Still Dominate Home Internet Scene

Real Player from RealNetworks, Inc. remains the most popular media player in use, with a reach of 12.1 percent in the active Internet universe, according to research by Nielsen//NetRatings.

By measuring content specific to each type of media player, Nielsen//NetRatings found that, in addition to Real Player’s 12.1 percent reach, Apple’s QuickTime had a 7.4 percent reach and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player held a reach of 3.2 percent.

“The battle of media players on the end user’s desktop is as significant as the battle of desktop operating systems many years ago,” said Allen Weiner, VP of Analytical Services at NetRatings. “Media players enable developers to fuse TV and radio events with Internet content, providing an experience for users that transcends a single medium. Our data shows three leaders setting the early pace, and they will guide the industry in how information and entertainment are delivered.”

The typical media player user is a white male, 25-49 years of age, and well educated with a strong concentration in professional and executive/managerial job classifications, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Users fell strongly in the $25,000 to $75,000 income brackets. Microsoft’s Windows Media Player had an audience that consisted of approximately 70 percent men, as compared to Real Player’s 61 percent male audience. Apple’s QuickTime had more females (41 percent) than those using Microsoft and RealNetworks’ players.

The other half of the streaming media equation is the speed at which a user connects to the Internet. When it comes to Internet usage at home, Web consumers in the US live in a modem-based world, Nielsen//NetRatings found. In November of 1999, only 5.9 percent of home users were accessing the Internet via a high-speed connection, which includes ISDN, T-1 lines, satellite, cable modem service, and the various types of digital subscriber lines. Among modem users, most are concentrated among mid-speed access, 28.8/33.6Kbps, with 45 percent market share. Faster modems offering 56Kbps access make up 41 percent of the market.

Bandwidth in the US
November 1999
Speed Unique
Percent of
Net Users
14.4 6,050,900 282 11 8.3%
28.8/33.6 32,991,289 451 15 45.2%
56 29,671,057 587 18 40.7%
4,266,023 1036 28 5.9%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

This information reveals a significant opportunity for network providers to offer higher bandwidth to the consumer’s computer. Those with high-speed access view more pages and surf the Web more often than those with 28.8/33.Kbps-modem access. In visits per person, those with higher speed access visit the Internet 83 percent more and view a 130 percent more pages than those with mid-range modem speed.

“The numbers suggest that those with higher-speed access will be more inclined to look at an increased number of Web ads and won’t have to face the annoying download wait that currently plagues the overwhelming number of US Internet users,” Weiner said.

As would be expected given the higher costs involved, Nielsen//NetRatings found that Internet users with a high-speed connection at home are wealthier than modem users. Some 37.1 percent of high-speed users who head households earn more than $75,000 a year; only 27.7 percent of 28.8/33.6Kbps consumers are in this income bracket. In addition, Internet users who head households with ISDN or better connectivity have a higher concentration of college degrees, 59.4 percent, versus 50.1 percent among 28.8/33.6Kbps users.

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