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The main ways by which people discover video content haven’t changed much since last year. But as a new report from Nielsen [download page] reveals, online ads and social media platforms are growing in stature as sources of video content awareness.

This year one-third of survey respondents ages 13 and older said they use social media websites and apps to discover new movies, TV shows or other full-length video content. That’s up from 29% saying so last year, representing 17% relative growth year-over-year.

A similar proportion (36%) of respondents discover video content through commercials, ads and/or trailers seen online, up from 32% last year.

These were the only discovery methods to see any growth from last year, reflecting the greater use of digital media.

The primary vehicles for full-length video content awareness remain the same as last year. Six in 10 (59%) rely on word-of-mouth, unchanged from last year (60%), while almost half (47%) discover content through promotions seen on TV (also flat from last year’s 46%).

Word-of-mouth also topped the list of adults’ video discovery sources in previous research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Digital Download Purchases Grow More Common

This year’s Video 360 report also finds that more people are downloading digital video. Some 42% of the general 13+ population purchased digital video in the past year, a 20% relative increase from 35% from last year.

Physical video purchases remain slightly more common, as half (51%) have made such a purchase in the past year – mostly unchanged from last year’s result (48%).

Data from The NPD Group generally supports those preferences, but finds a much wider degree of separation between physical and digital transactions. Among the 54% of respondents ages 13 and older who rented or purchased video content in the prior year, half (49%) relied on physical only, compared to about one-fifth (18%) on digital only.

Even so, that report also revealed growing use of digital rentals and purchases: among “transactors,” 51% consumed at least some digital content, up from 44% last year.

Other Highlights

In other findings from Nielsen’s report:

  • 1 in 4 respondents (13+) have watched a movie online before it was released on DVD/Blu-ray, and a similar proportion (23%) while it was still theaters;
  • More than 4 in 10 (42%) have ever watched live streamed content, a seemingly large increase from the 1 in 4 in last year’s report;
  • A slight majority (55%) have watched short-form video in the past 3 months;
  • Two-thirds (66%) of respondents report paying for a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, averaging 3.1 services per respondent.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey conducted in April 2018 among 2,000 US general population respondents ages 13 and older.

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