Streaming Media Consumers Among Net’s Most Active Users

Internet usage as a whole may be dropping off slightly, but Americans are spending more of their online time using streaming media, according to a study by Arbitron and Edison Media Research.

The study, “Streaming at a Crossroads”, found that Americans reported spending an average of 7:08 (hours:minutes) online per week in January 2001, compared to a weekly average 8:01 in January 2000. Despite the decline in usage, however, streaming media usage has increased. As of January 2001, 13 percent of Americans (more than 30 million) use Internet audio or video each month, compared to 10 percent in January 2000.

In the last year, 27 percent of Americans have used Internet audio or video, while 6 percent have used streaming media each week.

“One of the study’s key findings is that broadband and streaming media go hand in hand,” said Bill Rose, vice president and general manager, Arbitron Internet Information. “As more consumers get super-fast Internet access at home, their streaming media consumption is likely to grow.”

The study refers to Internet users who have ever listened to or viewed streaming content as “streamies”. According to the research, streamies spend far more time online than other Internet users, are more likely to click on banners, and are twice as likely to make online purchases. Streamies are also more likely to be employed, and have a level of education and income.

“Streaming media is a great way for advertisers to target the younger 12 to 24-year-old market,” said Larry Rosin, president of Edison Media Research. “These consumers are more likely to be online using streaming media and have a higher tendency to interact with the advertising.”

The streamies identified in the survey also show interest in new devices for receiving audio content. Compared to Americans in general, streamies show twice the interest in downloading music from the Web to a PC and getting Internet audio and satellite radio for the car. Streamies are also twice as interested in receiving streaming content on a cell phone or PDA.

As expected, broadband Internet access and the use of streaming media are closely related. The 7 percent of American households with broadband access are twice as likely to consume streaming media, according to the Arbitron/Edison study. Overall, 12 percent of Internet users say they have an at-home broadband connection, but broadband penetration increases among those that have tried streaming media (16 percent), used streaming media in the past month (18 percent) or used streaming media in the last week (22 percent). Eight percent of Americans say they plan to subscribe to broadband in the next 12 months. Those that have tried streaming (23 percent) are more likely to subscribe to broadband in the next year, the study found.

Ubiquitous broadband access at work has made streamies very likely to consume streaming media in the office. The study also found that the more more time spent with streaming media, the greater the amount of at-work radio listenership. Streamies are also more likely to get their at-work entertainment via Internet radio.

According to research by Media Metrix, almost every American PC has a streaming media player installed, but their use has leveled off (see table). Media Metrix’ 2000 Media Player Focus Report found that streaming-media players are installed on 99 percent of U.S. home PCs. But in November 2000, only 40 percent of U.S. home computer users used a streaming-media player.

“As a result of aggressive bundling campaigns, media players and streaming media players are now installed on nearly every home PC in the United States, but growth of consumers’ usage of them is flattening,” said Steve Coffey, Executive Vice President, Media Metrix. “To close the gap between what people can do and what they actually do, the industry must continue to develop content and better delivery systems that encourage users to take advantage of the digital video and audio capabilities they have.”

In the streaming-media category, RealNetworks’ RealPlayer maintains the largest share of users. In November 2000, 28 percent of all U.S. home computer users used RealPlayer, 22 percent used Windows Media Player (versions 6 and 7) and four percent used Quicktime (version 4). In contrast, 22 percent of these same users used RealPlayer in January 2000, 17 percent used Windows Media Player (versions 6 and 7) and three percent used Quicktime (version 4).


Reach of Leading Streaming Media Players
Percentage of U.S. Home Computer Users (Both PC and Mac)
January to November 2000
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
RealPlayer 22% 24% 28% 29% 31% 31% 32% 32% 30% 29% 28%
Windows Media
Player 6&7*
17% 18% 17% 18% 18% 17% 18% 19% 20% 22% 22%
QuickTime 4.0 3% 3% 3% 3% 3% 4% 4% 4% 4% 4% 4%
* Windows Media Player 7 added as of August, 2000 data
Source: Media Metrix

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