YouTube Users Watching Less Television

Feb 6th, 2007 | By | Category: Digital Video Downloads, Video

YouTubeRecent research by Harris Interactive suggests that the biggest threat to the future of broadcast television may come from YouTube and other Internet video sources.

Over four in 10 (42%) online U.S. adults say they have watched a video at YouTube, and 14 percent say they visit the site frequently. Almost one in three (32%) of these frequent YouTube users say they are watching less TV as a result of the time they spend there.

However, YouTube has its own set of challenges as it tries to monetize the viewer traffic it has amassed. If YouTube is considering airing ads before its videos, they may be advised to halt that thinking; 73 percent of frequent YouTube users say they would visit the site less if it started including short video ads before every clip.YouTube Viewers Watch Less TV

Of all frequent YouTube users, two-thirds (66%) claim they are sacrificing other activities when on YouTube. Although their visits to the site are most likely to have been at the expense of visiting other websites (36%), time spent watching TV is next most likely to have taken a hit (32%). YouTube also cuts into email and other online social networking (20%), work/homework (19%), playing video games (15%), watching DVD(s) (12%) and even spending time with friends and family in person (12%).

Further compounding the problem for the TV and advertising, YouTube usage is greatest among the group already hardest to reach through television advertising: young males. Over three-quarters (76%) of 18 to 24 year old males say they have watched a video at YouTube, and 41 percent visit YouTube frequently.

“We know from some of our other data on teens that YouTube is just as popular with them as it is with young adults,” says Aongus Burke, Senior Research Manager of Harris Interactive‚Äôs Media & Entertainment Practice. “It has really emerged as a major force in, and problem for, the traditional entertainment industry. Not only is YouTube using a lot of their own content to steal the eyeballs they want the most, the site has provided a launching pad to wholly new forms of user-generated video entertainment that are gaining popularity quickly.”

Advertising on YouTube

YouTube faces challenges of its own as it tries to cash in on the house that it has built. When asked if the inclusion of short commercials before every clip would change how often they will visit YouTube, nearly three-quarters of adults who frequently visit the site say they would visit it a lot (31%) or a little (42%) less often as a result.

“To be fair,” says Burke, “as far as we know, YouTube has never publicly said that they are considering including short commercials before the clips on their site. However, we wanted to see how much resistance there would be at that extreme. Apparently, there is a lot.”

Indeed, in the last year, TV networks have successfully experimented with airing of TV episodes with commercials on their websites. Nearly as many online adults (41%) say they have watched a video at a TV network website as they have at YouTube (42%). It seems like TV networks can get away with advertising more easily.

“Indeed, we have seen in previous data,” says Burke, “that consumers as a rule are not averse to watching commercials online in order to catch an episode of a TV show they would otherwise miss. Yet those who are accustomed to finding and watching everything for free at YouTube may have developed a very different set of expectations for the site.”

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