One in Four US Households Watches Online TV

September 9, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Television

Nearly 25% of US? households watch TV online, up from 20% last year, according to a new study on video viewing habits from The Conference Board and TNS.

The study found that an overwhelming majority (80%) of consumers go online for daily entertainment, which survey respondents report is one of the most important internet activities, behind personal communication and work-related tasks, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.

Consumers are moving away from “appointment” TV, preferring instead to watch programs whenever they choose, The Conference Board said, adding that the ability to view favorite shows at any time – along with personal convenience – are the two major reasons why half of consumers turn to online TV. Consumers also cite portability as another benefit.

As a result, about 20% of consumers say their traditional TV viewing has declined. News shows are the most popular online programs – watched by about 43% of online TV viewers. About 35% enjoy sitcoms, comedies and dramas, while 19% of online TV viewers indulge in reality shows and 18% follow sports. Other forms of online content include previews, user-generated content, additional content from favorite shows, soap operas and ads.

Additional study findings:

  • Two-thirds of all online TV viewers access their favorite programs through streaming video, while 41% opt for free downloads.
  • Nine out of 10 online viewers enjoy online TV from their own home, while one in 10 logs on at the office.
  • More than two-thirds of online TV viewers access television content through the official TV channel’s home page. still retains second place, accessed by 42% of online TV viewers. There has been a great explosion in the popularity of, with usage growing from 8% of households in 2008 to 32% today, the research found.

The viewing of video on devices other than television has exploded in recent months. Nielsen’s latest A2/M2 Three Screen Report shows that time spent watching online video increased 46%, or by 59 minutes, in the second quarter of 2009 from Q208. The mobile video audience jumped 70%.

A study from Knowledge Networks indicated that more than two-thirds of Americans now use mobile devices that are video-enabled. Overall, 66% of Americans who have broadband access at home have iPods, cell phones or laptops with video capabilities.

About the survey: The study is based on findings from The Conference Board’s Consumer Internet Barometer, which is based on a quarterly survey of 10,000 US households. A unique sample is surveyed each quarter. Return rates average 70%, and data is weighted as well to reflect the latest US household demographic information. The latest survey was conducted during the third quarter of 2009.


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