Seven in ten adult internet users (69%) have used the internet to watch or download video

Seven in ten adult internet users (69%)—or roughly half (52%) of all U.S. adults—have used the internet to watch or download video.  Young adult internet users, 18-29 year-olds, continue to be the heaviest consumers of online video.

Since 2007, there have been dramatic increases in the numbers of Americans who watch the following kinds of videos online:

  • Comedy or humorous videos, which have risen in viewership from 31% to 50% of adult internet users
  • Educational videos, which have risen in viewership from 22% to 38% of adult internet users
  • Movies or TV show videos, which have risen in viewership from 16% to 32% of adult internet users
  • Political videos, which have risen in viewership from 15% to 30% of adult internet users

Viewership of other types of online video has also risen in the same timeframe. The spread of broadband, the increased use of social networking and status update sites like Facebook and Twitter, the popularity of video-sharing sites like YouTube, and the embrace of video features by untold numbers of websites, have all contributed to the surge in online video watching.

Among online video watchers, 8% have connected their computer to their television so they can watch online video on a television screen.  This represents 5% of all internet users, which is slightly lower than the 8% of internet users who were watching online video on their television screens in an April 2009 Pew Internet survey.  One in ten video watchers (10%), or 7% of all internet users, have paid to watch or download a video.  In 2007, 4% of internet users had paid to access or download video online.

On the other side of the camera, 14% of internet users have uploaded a video to the internet so others can watch or download it.  That figure is almost double the 8% of internet users who were uploading video in 2007.  Women are now just as likely as men to upload and share videos, and social networking sites like Facebook are as popular as video-sharing sites like YouTube as locations for video uploading.

Among video uploaders, there is considerable variation in terms of who they share their videos with, who they believe is watching, and concerns about how their video may be used.  One in three uploaders (31%) say they “always” place restrictions on who can access their videos, while 50% say they “never” do this.  The remaining 19% fall somewhere in the middle.

Asked about their experiences in sharing videos online, uploaders have these views:

  • 41% agree they have been surprised by the number of people who watch their videos
  • 39% agree that no one other than their family or friends will watch the videos they post
  • 35% agree they sometimes feel they should be more careful about the videos they post
  • 28% agree that sharing videos online has helped them meet new people

These figures were gathered in a survey of 763 internet-using adults between June 18 and June 21, 2009.  The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for results based on adult internet users.