Study: 52 Million Americans Watch Digital Video Originals

Remember when TV shows and movies were far and away the most popular type of digital programming, and nothing else came close?

Now, original online programming is picking up steam in content popularity contests. About 52 million Americans watch original digital video each month, a 15% rise from the 45 million per month in 2013. That’s about one in five U.S adults who tune into this genre on a regular basis, according to new research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, conducted with research firm GfK.

What’s particularly noteworthy is where originals fall in the pecking order.  Prime-time TV still leads the pack, but originals are gaining and have pulled ahead of news, sports and daytime TV programming in online viewing preference, the study found.

Reasons for the rise include: viewers like the flexibility of viewing and the chance to watch anywhere they want, including on mobile devices. In fact, consumers are using smartphones and tablets to watch original digital videos nearly twice as much as they did a year ago. Likewise, nearly half use Internet-connected TVs for this genre, also almost double the number last year.

To better understand how advertisers can connect with these original viewers, consider some of their behavior. More than half say they don’t plan their viewing, compared to only 25% who are impromptu about prime-time watching. That means that recommendations, discovery and serendipity are playing larger roles in driving this segment of viewing. Consumers often learn about original shows via word of mouth, social media, or clicking on links they see in a news feed, so they’re coming across viewing opportunities rather than seeking them out as actively as they do with TV.  About 51% learn of shows via word of mouth and 41% from social sites, a 17% rise over last year for social. They also talk more about the shows on social sites than they do prime-time shows.

Growth is coming from the younger segments, with about 40% of the 18-to-34 age range watching originals online, up 25% from last year.

The study also found that overall online video viewing time has more than doubled in the past four years, clocking in at about 23 minutes per day on average in 2013.

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