WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25 – Fifty-seven percent of online adults have used the internet to watch or download video, and 19% do so on a typical day.

The growing adoption of broadband combined with a dramatic push by content providers to promote online video has helped to pave the way for mainstream audiences to embrace online video viewing. Three-quarters of broadband users (74%) who enjoy high-speed connections at both home and work watch or download video online.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s first major report on online video also shows how many video viewers have contributed to the viral and social nature of online video. More than half of online video viewers (57%) share links to the video they find with others, and three in four (75%) say they receive links to watch video that others have sent to them.

Video viewers who actively exploit the participatory features of online video, such as rating content, posting feedback or uploading video, make up the motivated minority of the online video audience. Young adults are the most active participants in this realm.

“Young adults are among the most contagious carriers when it comes to understanding how viral videos propagate online,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist at the Project and lead author of the report. “Younger users are the most eager and active contributors to the online video sphere; they are more likely than older users to watch, upload, rate, comment upon and share the video they find.”

Overall, just 8% of adult internet users say they have uploaded video content online, while 15% of internet users ages 18-29 have contributed video.

Young adults also stand out for their unique video viewing preferences. News content is the most popular genre with every age group except for those ages 18-29. For young adults, comedy is a bigger draw, with 56% watching humorous videos, compared with 43% of internet users ages 18-29 who say they watch news videos.

In all, the survey asked respondents about ten different types of online video content:

  • 37% of adult internet users say they watch or download news videos online
  • 31% say they watch or download comedy or humorous videos online
  • 22% say they watch or download music videos online
  • 22% say they watch or download educational videos online
  • 19% say they watch or download animation or cartoons online
  • 16% say they watch or download movies or TV shows online
  • 15% say they watch or download political videos online
  • 14% say they watch or download sports videos online
  • 13% say they watch or download commercials or advertisements online
  • 6% say they watch or download adult videos online

In addition, 6% of respondents said they watch some other type of video that does not fall into any of these categories.

Professional videos are generally preferred to amateur productions online, but amateur content appeals to coveted segments of the young male audience.

Overall, 62% of online video viewers say that their favorite videos are those that are “professionally produced,” while 19% of online video viewers express a preference for content “produced by amateurs.” Another 11% say they enjoy both professionally-produced video and amateur online video equally.

For young adult men, one of the most sought-after audiences for advertisers, some 43% of online video users in this cohort express a clear preference for professional video, while 34% say they prefer amateur content. Another 19% of male video viewers ages 18-29 say they enjoy both amateur and professional content equally.

“Anyone with a digital camera and an internet connection can create and distribute video that has the potential to reach millions of viewers all over the world,” said Madden. “Online video tools are providing ordinary people with extraordinary ways to communicate with one another.”

These findings come from a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of 2,200 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted February 15-March 7, 2007. Some 1,492 of those interviewed were internet users. The margin of error on the full sample is +/- 2%. For results based internet users, the margin of sampling error is +/- 3%.

About the Pew Internet & American Life Project: The Pew Internet Project produces reports that explore the social impact of the internet. Support for the non-profit Pew Internet Project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Project is an initiative of the Pew Research Center. The Project’s website: https://legacy.pewresearch.org/internet