52 Million US Viewers Watch Original Digital Video Each Month

According to the “2014 Original Digital Video Study” from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), produced by GfK, Americans are increasingly embracing original digital video programming, preferring that type of content to news, sports and daytime programming on television, and like it almost as much as they do primetime TV.

The research reveals that 22% of American adults watch original digital video each month, bringing the audience to 52 million per month. This represents a 15% increase from 45 million per month, reported in 2013.

The report shows that this programming is perceived as more innovative, edgy, unique and mobile in comparison to regular TV. Moreover, compared with a year ago, these aspects are cited almost three times more often for what is liked better about original digital video over typical primetime TV by monthly viewers of both.

The study reports on respondents who reported watching streaming video monthly with the video types defined as follows:

  • TV Online: Network TV shows online such as Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead, Colbert Report or those found on sites like or
  • Amateur: (“amateur online video” defined as): created by regular people and looks and feels like it is home made. (e.g. baby videos or funny cat videos)
  • Original Digital Video: professionally produced video only for online distribution and viewing (not TV). The creators of this kind of video content include media companies, online-only companies, or YouTube’s Original Channels

Flexibility of viewing is cited as the top driver for watching “made for digital” content (41%) and is considered a key reason for logging onto digital rather than tuning into traditional television shows. The ability to watch “anytime, anywhere” is reflected by a sharp increase in the mobile viewing of original digital video.

Smartphones (46%) and tablets (41%) are now being used to view this sort of programming at levels almost twice those of a year ago, says the report. In addition, 48% use internet-connected TVs to watch original digital video, creating a similar viewing environment to TV, also nearly double the rate in 2013.

Sizing the Market Among the General Population

  • Younger adults 18-34 (39%) and males (25%) report significantly higher Original Digital Video monthly+ viewing levels
  • A rough estimate is that about 52 million American adults view Original Digital Video each month (22% of 238.4M US adults)

Use of Streaming Video Types (2014; Adults 18+)


Video Type


TV Online


Original Digital Video





   At least monthly








   At least weekly












Source: IAB, April 2014

Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB, notes that “… original digital programming…  captured the attention of consumers across the country… thundering applause from ‘standing-room-only’ audiences of media buyers and marketers at… NewFronts presentation… underscores the importance of this innovative medium to advertisers… “

The study also highlights how viewing habits for original digital video strongly differs from traditional television, says the report:

  • More than half of monthly original digital video users report their viewing of the medium is unplanned, compared with only about one quarter of those that watch TV online and regular primetime television viewers
  • Across television dayparts and categories, there has been a significant decline in planned viewing with patterns becoming more similar to how consumers approach original digital viewing
  • Social media sites are playing a larger role in the discovery of original digital programming
  • Original digital video viewers conduct more social media activities related to the shows they watch online (52%) than they do for primetime TV (38%)
  • In in-depth focus groups with viewers, participants said that original digital video is more typically consumed solo and in shorter durations

Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics and Measurement, IAB, concludes that  “… this consumer enthusiasm…  translate into increased ad dollars… into original digital video… distinct differences between original video content on digital versus traditional television…”

To view the complete report with detailed charts and data on TV viewing and demographics (recommended), please visit here.


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