By mixing brain-eating aliens with the prospect of free network programming, Hulu's marketing efforts appear to be paying off as 35% of Web users now say they have viewed such content online.
By comparison, just 16% of Web users said they had watched or downloaded TV shows or movies in 2007, according to new data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
"Efforts to lure viewers to these portals appear to be paying off," according to the report.
The use of video-sharing sites currently outranks many other headline-snatching Internet pastimes among American adults, according to an April survey of some 2,253 adults by Princeton Survey Research International.
Watching online videos on sites like YouTube is more prevalent than the use of social networking sites -- 46% of adult Internet users are active on such sites; podcast downloading -- 19% of Internet users do this; and the use of microblogging sites like Twitter -- 11% of Internet users do this.
Young adults continue to lead the adoption curve in online video viewing. Nine in 10 Internet users ages 18-29 use video-sharing sites, up from 72% one year ago. On a typical day in 2009, 36% of young adult Internet users watched video on these sites, compared with just 30% in 2008. Online adults ages 30-49 also showed big gains over the past year; 67% now use video-sharing sites, up from 57% in 2008.
Online video viewing is still far from being the norm among Internet users ages 50 and older; however, this segment of the Internet audience continues to grow each year. Among Internet users ages 50-64, 41% now say they watch video on sites like YouTube -- up from 34% in 2008.
Likewise, 27% of wired seniors ages 65 and older now access video on these sites, compared with just 19% who were doing so at this time last year.
Over the past year, the share of online women who visit video-sharing sites has grown substantially--from 46% in 2008 to 59% in the latest survey. That compares with 57% of male Internet users who reported online video viewing in 2008 and 65% in 2009.
On a typical day, online men are still more likely to have watched a video on sites like YouTube; 23% now report doing so compared with just 15% of online women. The latest survey found that there are now no significant differences across income or education groups when looking at the use of video-sharing sites.
Among those who have watched television shows and movies online, 23% have taken the next step to connect their computer to their TV screen to watch online video from the comfort of their couch.
Online men are almost twice as likely to rearrange the living room in this regard; 29% of male viewers who watch TV and movies online have connected their computer to the television screen, compared with just 16% of online women.
As stated in the Pew Internet Project's "Home Broadband Adoption 2009" report, overall, 22% of American adults say they have cut back on their cable or television services over the course of the past 12 months.
That compares to just 9% who have cut back on their Internet service. Those who have canceled or cut back on cable and TV services are more likely to have "rerouted" their online video viewing to their television screen. Among this economizing group of online video viewers, 32% have connected their computer to their TV screen to watch Internet video.
As Internet users become accustomed to regular on-demand video viewing online, many are choosing to watch from the comfort of their couch.
Among those who watch TV shows or movies online, 23% say they have connected their computer to a television screen so they could view video from the Internet on their TV. That amounts to roughly 8% of all internet users.