If you think you've been spending more time watching video online, you're not alone. A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, released this week, said that the daily traffic to sites such as YouTube doubled in 2007, and that nearly half of all adult Internet users have visited such sites.
A year ago, in December 2006, about 33 percent of Internet users had been to video-sharing sites, Pew said, and it's now up to 48 percent -- a jump of 45 percent.
In fact, 15 percent of the 2,054 adults surveyed between late October and early December said they visited a video-sharing site the day before they were polled in the survey, compared to 8 percent in 2006.
Linked to Broadband
Men continue to lead women among those who said they had visited a video-sharing site, with 53 percent compared to 43 percent. Last year, the figures were 40 percent and 27 percent, and women's increased usage is part of the reason for the jump. Average daily use among women increased 120 percent, from 5 percent to 11 percent.
The report tied the growth in the popularity of online video to increased access to broadband, and to the fact that there are more videos on YouTube and other sites than there were previously, including more amateur video.
More than three times as many people who shoot their own videos now post them online, compared to the middle of 2006.
"Everything connected to online video doubled last year," said James McQuivey, an analyst at industry research firm Forrester. In particular, he cited the amount of time people spent with video and the number of people who watch full episodes of television shows online.
Growth Not Yet Finished
This ratcheting-up in the popularity of online video -- more people watch because there's more to watch, and most video is posted because more people are watching -- is "far from over," McQuivey said.
"In 2008, more content owners will respond by making their content even more available online than in 2007," he said. He also pointed to new video sites, such as Hulu.com, that will begin to impact viewing patterns. Hulu.com will come out of its current beta this year, McQuivey said, and "share its primetime and classic television shows with major sites like Yahoo, AOL, and MSN."
Hulu.com's initiatives, he predicted, will increase the amount of time people watch video online. But he said he believes that time spent with online video won't rival the average amount of time that adults spend watching traditional television, as some have been predicting.
Still, many are not passively watching video content on the Internet in the same manner in which they watch TV. For example, a previous Pew report, released last July, showed that young adults are the "most active participants" in using participatory features of online video, such as rating content, posting feedback, and uploading video.