Americans with Internet access are streaming more TV shows and movies than ever before, according to a recent Ipsos MediaCT MOTION study, which found that 26% of online Americans had streamed a full-length TV show in the previous 30 days.

Moreover, 14% had streamed a full-length movie—more than double the levels measured in September 2008.

Not surprisingly, young adults (18-24) do the most streaming. In the previous 30 days, 30% had streamed a full-length movie and 51% had streamed a full-length TV show:


The swift growth of digital video websites likely accounts for the rapid rise in longer-form video streaming, Ipsos said. It cited Hulu, in particular, as generating greater traffic and helping to pioneer the transition to ad-supported streaming of TV shows and movies.

Not that digital video is replacing TV:

  • On average, Americans with Internet access watch 15 hours of television per week, compared with less than two hours per week on a PC, according to Ipsos.
  • Even among digital video users, 64% would rather watch hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies on TV rather than rent or purchase such content or watch it on a PC or portable device.
  • Clearly, the TV is still preferred, especially considering the rapid growth of HDTV, now in 41% of US homes with Internet access, Ipsos said.

Nevertheless, the "digital video revolution is no longer centered on short clips via YouTube; it is becoming an important distribution channel where any type of full-length video can be instantly accessed for immediate consumption without a fee," said Brian Pickens, senior research manager at Ipsos MediaCT.

As the ad-supported model gains acceptance, content providers will find it challenging to use fee-based methods but will also need to determine how much advertising streamers will tolerate, Ipsos said.

About the data: In April 2009, Ipsos MediaCT conducted its biannual MOTION study, interviewing a representative US online population 12 years and older. The findings cited here are from that study.

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