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Digital Audiences in the Driver's Seat. Time Spent Online Increasing Exponentially.

May 12, 2008
Viewing TV Online

Published: May 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM GMT
Last Updated: May 9, 2008 at 10:25 AM GMT

In 2006, 32 percent of adults 18 to 24 said they spent more than three hours per day, on average, online for personal enjoyment, according to JackMyers research. In 2007, 44.5 percent of adults 18 to 24 said they spend more than three hours per day.

"The focus now is on the consumer," says JackMyers Future of Media Breakfast panelist Sara Fay, CEO of Aegis North America, when asked about trends in digital content. "We have to remember the user is in control, and that facilitates great experiences for consumers and adds value for them."

The audience Fay and others are trying to reach has some interesting characteristics. Nearly 53 percent of adults 18 to 24 who watch user-generated videos online say they watch occasionally or frequently, while 33 percent of adults 25 to 54 say the same, according to JackMyers Emotional Connections™ Consumer Research Studies*. 18 to 24 year-old males view more frequently than females that same age: nearly 64 percent of males say they watch user-generated videos online occasionally or frequently vs. 43 percent of females.

Teens view user-generated content with even greater frequency. Among teens age 15 to 17 who watch, 64 percent say they watch occasionally or frequently.

That younger demographic also goes online not just for user-generated content, but for some of their network television viewing as well. Forty percent of online users age 12 and over watch television programming online and 20 percent say they watch on a weekly basis, according to a February 2008 study by Solutions Research Group of 1100 online Americans. Of teens 15 to 17 who watch network television online, 48 percent say they do so occasionally or frequently. And among adults 18 to 24 who watch network TV online, 42 percent say they watch occasionally or frequently. Of 25 to 54 year-olds, 28 percent say they occasionally or frequently watch, according to the Emotional Connections Study.

Dina Kaplan, COO of blip.tv, in an exclusive interview with JackMyers Media Business Report, says "what's happening right now online, especially through sites like blip.tv, is very threatening to the old network system. The networks have lost the control that they had since the advent of television to decide what's going to be popular and what's not." Whether a 28 year-old catches episodes of Lost on ABC.com or a 16 year-old watches the original web series The Naked Brothers Band on WWBiggies.com or Nickelodeon, the boundaries between network and online are blurring.

Albie Hecht, CEO of digital entertainment studio Worldwide Biggies, acknowledges "Our audience is primarily young adults and the digital family," says Hecht in an exclusive interview with JackMyers Media Business Report. "It's sort of two audiences that I learned at Nickelodeon and Spike." Hecht, who developed Worldwide Biggies after more than ten years at Nickelodeon, creates web properties like Star vs. Star and the upcoming Princess Bride Game.

Cutting-edge content is indeed consumed by a younger audience and more often, but the older demographic is not far behind. As programming on the web shifts to cater to its audiences, new trends of entertainment are catching on for every audience. "Funny is money," says Hecht when asked what programming performs the best on the Worldwide Biggies site. "So most of the things we do seem to have a sense of humor. I definitely say comedy is engaging."

Internet users have become seasoned critics, especially because their involvement with content is not limited to strictly consumption now; they are creating some of it as well. Thirty-four percent of adults age 18 to 24 who produce or submit user-generated content online say they do so frequently or occasionally and over 44 percent of teens 15 to 17 say the same. Young adults have moved into the driver's seat in online content.

As new and fresh online content crops up everyday, the audience paying attention to it becomes more demanding, more empowered and ever changing. The future of digital content is seemingly boundless; it's not just for a dimly lit bedroom with a laptop or an office-computer lunchtime break.

Kaplan reiterates, "We definitely believe that in a few years, many of these top Web shows will be watched on people's television sets. Honestly, I think they're meant to be watched on the comfortable couch in your living room, with a remote control in hand."

To support publishers' needs to monetize this growth and expansion, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Leadership Forum on May 5 announced its Digital Video In-Stream Format Guidelines and Best Practices.

(*Data is based on those who participated in activity in the past month. From JackMyers Emotional Connections Study 2007: Media and Technology Usage)

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