Broadband’s Impact — Seven out of Ten Adults Watching Online Videos

by Ava L. Parker on August 21, 2011

A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project gives new evidence of the expanding reach of broadband Internet access.

The Pew study, which looked at Internet usage in May, found that 71 percent of American adults watched online videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-sharing Web sites, while 66 percent did so a year earlier.

Pew also found that 76 percent of African-American adults watched online videos on the various sites, well ahead of the 69 percent of white adults. The most active users, however, were Hispanics — 81 percent.

YouTube’s 3 billion views

Pew offered no analysis of why black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to view online videos, but Pew did suggest that video-sharing Web sites were growing in popularity because now there are so many more videos to watch.

According to YouTube, another 48 hours of videos are posted to the Web site every minute. YouTube has 28 different categories, many with subcategories, and the growing variety of videos is attracting more viewers, according to Pew.

Needless to say, YouTube has a lot of visitors. In 2005, the Web site reported 8 million views a day. This year, it handles 3 billion views a day. So, are half of Earth’s 7 billion people watching videos every day? A scary thought.

A nation of Spielbergs

All of those videos have to come from somewhere. Increasingly, they are coming from cell phones.

Pew found that 34 percent of cell-phone owners have used their phones to record videos, and 22 percent of phone users have posted the videos online. In addition, 26 percent have watched a video on their cell phone.

Men and women tend to record and post cell phone videos in equal measure, but men are more likely to watch videos on their phones.

Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to use their cell phones to record, post, or watch videos.

Finally, Pew found that Internet users in rural America were just as likely to visit video-sharing Web sites as were adults in suburban or urban settings. That is, if they had Internet access — broadband is not available in many rural areas.

Of the adults polled in the Pew survey, 28 percent said they had visited a video-sharing Web site the previous day. In other words, one in four adults visit YouTube or a similar site daily.

The growth in the popularity of video Web sites shows people are putting their broadband connections to use.

It also shows that the campaign by One Economy and the Broadband Opportunity Coalition to extend broadband Internet access is having an effect. More and more people are watching videos — and you can’t watch YouTube without broadband access.

  • Ava L. Parker of Jacksonville, Florida, is the president of Linking Solutions Inc., a business-development and community-outreach firm, and a partner in the law firm of Lawrence & Parker, PA., and the voice of The AvaView, a blog on digital action and consumer protection.

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  • Anonymous

    Ms. Parker’s post is informative.  It also raises the issue of “overindexing” that was raised by Federal Communications Commission member Mignon Clyburn in a recent interview with Reel Urban News.  While we are consuming a great deal of content, do we own any of this content?  We need to be as diligent in our creation and ownership of content as we are in consuming it. 

  • John_Q_Public

    Online  video is an important component of social interaction and democratic participation. It’s encouraging to see that so many minorities are consuming this type of media. But are they producing it? Are they contributing to this emerging dialogue in meaningful ways? These are the data points that we should be worrying about, along with connecting the more than half of minority households that are without broadband.

  • Summer001

    It would be wonderful, if there was more ownership, considering the number of viewers.  In light of the economy, video is possibly the replacement for face to face visiting, for many.  It affords the opportunity to stay connected to family and friends without worrying about the cost.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          a trip or vacaton

  • Florida

    OK, that is just freaking amazing. Not long ago, I’d never even heard of YouTube and now … this.

  • OneUpOneDown

    No wonder we don’t have any time for exercise!

    When we aren’t sitting at the desk, we’re watching TV, and when we’re not watching TV, we’re watching vids on YouTube.

    I felt fatter just reading the data.

  • Craig Herndon

    There is a dramatic mistake in analysis of the study here. The headline says 7 of 10 adults, while the study says 7 of 10 “ONLINE ADULTS.” The way we use numbers is critical to understanding the problems and solutions.

  • Think again

    Wow! These figures are really amazing. Now I understand why we are running out of spectrum.

  • S.W.

    I didn’t realize so many people, and minorities specifically, were watching / creating mobile video on a regular basis. Maybe MMTC should make videos re: the benefits of in-home broadband that will catch the eyes of non-adopters! You know, let them know that mobile broadband is only one part of the equation, although a very significant part.

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