A national survey conducted in July 2013 by Pew Internet shows that the percent of American adult internet users who upload or post videos...
digitalA national survey conducted in July 2013 by Pew Internet shows that the percent of American adult internet users who upload or post videos online has doubled in the past four years, from 14% in 2009 to 31% today.

This figure includes online adults who do at least one of the following:

  • Upload a video to the internet so others can watch or download it—27% of adult internet users have done this.
  • Post videos to any website online that they, themselves, have taken or created—18% of adult internet users have done this.

Younger adult internet users are twice as likely to post and share videos online than their older counterparts.  Fully 41% of 18-29 year-old internet users and 36% of 30-49 year-old internet users post or share videos online, compared with 18% of internet users age 50 and older. Online adults living in higher income households (annual income of $75,000 or more) are also particularly likely to post or share videos online when compared with those in households with annual incomes below $50,000.

Also, the percent of online adults who watch or download videos has also grown over the past four years, from 69% of adult internet users in 2009 to 78% today.  That figure includes online adults who say they do at least one of the following:

  • Watch videos on a video-sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo —72% of adult internet users have done this.
  • Watch videos online, including on social network sites or using mobile apps—56% of adult internet users have done this.
  • Download video files onto a computer or cell phone so they can play them at any time they want—36% of adult internet users have done this.

Video-sharing sites like YouTube have been the main driving force in the increasing percentage of online adults who post, watch and download videos.  Since 2006, the percent of online adults who use video-sharing sites has grown from 33% to the current figure of 72%.

Among all online adults, rates of online video watching are highest among those ages 18-49, as well as those with higher educational attainment and household incomes.

“As we found in 2009, comedy and educational videos are among the most widely viewed video genres, with 57% of all online adults saying they watch comedy/humorous videos and 50% of online adults saying they watch educational videos”, said Pew analysts.

These two genres are now joined at the top of the list by how-to videos, watched by 56% of online adults, and music videos.  Music videos showed the largest growth in viewership between 2009 and 2013, from 32% to 50% of all online adults now watching this type of video online.

Among adults who watch videos online, different genres appeal to different demographic groups.  For instance, online video watchers age 18-29 are more likely than those age 50 and older to watch music videos (81% v. 39%), comedy videos (82% v. 61%), and animation videos (47% v. 20%).  More male than female online video watchers view sports videos (49% v. 23%), political videos (40% v. 30%), and adult videos (25% v. 8%) online.

As noted above, 18% of online adults share videos online that they have recorded or created themselves.  For this group, the most common subject matter is friends and family doing everyday things (58% post videos with this kind of content), followed closely by videos of themselves or others doing funny things (56%) and videos of events attended (54%).

In contrast, those who post their own videos online are less likely to post videos that have been intentionally staged, scripted or choreographed (just 23% do this) or educational or tutorial videos they have shot themselves (30% do this).

Among all video posters and uploaders, both those who post their own videos and those who post videos created by others, 35% say they have posted or shared a video online with the hope of it being seen by many people or “going viral.”  That equates to 11% of all adult internet users.  Just 5% of adults who post videos online say they have regretted a video they have posted in the past.

The growing popularity of posting and watching online videos is a natural byproduct of the increasing percent of adults who use social network sites such as Facebook, as well as the proliferation of cell phones which make it relatively easy to watch, record, and post videos online.  Fully 72% of online adults now use social networking sites, which provide a venue for video sharing and watching.  The current survey shows that:

  • 71% of adults who post videos online do so on social networking sites.
  • 58% of adults who watch online videos do so on social networking sites.

Similarly, as the percent of American adults who own a cell phone has reached 91%, it is not uncommon for adults to use these devices to participate in the online video culture.  Among adult cell phone owners:

  • 41% use their phones to watch video.
  • 40% use their phones to record video.
  • 20% use their phones to post videos online.

The findings in the current survey are from a nationally representative omnibus telephone survey of 1,003 adults conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) from July 25 to July 28, 2013.

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