Prime Time is the Web’s New Prime Time

The stereotypes of the woman at the office forwarding cat videos or the young guy downloading pirated movies late at night in the dorms is starting to go the way of dialup.
It seems that the audience for online video is getting older, more diverse and more mainstream. And perhaps surprisingly, TV’s prime time is the new prime time for Web video viewing — rather than at-the office-pretending-to-work time. Even more surprising: fewer people are sharing videos than they used to.
Those are just some of the findings from a new study released by Yahoo, in conjuction with the research firm Interpret, which surveyed 4,100 online video viewers on their recent viewing habits.
The report, a followup to a similar research report Yahoo produced in 2009, found that online video viewing between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m had jumped 30 percentage points compared to two years ago.
In addition, Yahoo found that more women and more adults 25-64 are watching Web online versus 2009.
Also markedly different from two years ago, Yahoo found that just 26 percent of respondents claim to have shared a video, down from 34 percent in 2009.
According to Lauren Weinberg, Yahoo’s senior director of strategic insights and research, there are a few simple explanations as to why prime-time Web viewership is up so much. For one, 13-to-34-year olds are inclined to stream video during prime hours. In addition, Netflix and Hulu are ideal long-form TV content-viewing outlets for the prime-time hours. And with an older, more mainstream audience being drawn to video, those folks are seeking more traditional content.
Neither trend seems to be impacting TV viewing much. “If anything, it’s creating more time spent with more media,” said Weinberg. “That shift isn’t taking away from TV.”
Plus, video is becoming an integral part of general Web content consumption, said Weinberg, increasing prime time and all day viewership. “It’s simply part of what people do now online,” she said. “People don’t go online specifically to watch videos, but they visit news and sports sites and others, and its part of the content experience.”
That might be why Yahoo found fewer people are sharing videos, despite the perception that viral videos rule. The more common Web video is (or in some cases, the more mundane it is), the less need there is to share it with the world. Plus, the older the medium gets, the fewer social-media-reliant, super-wired users are drawn to video (in other words, old people don’t share as much).
The good news for brands and particularly for big branded publishers is that these older users are more receptive to advertising in professional video content. The report found that 45 percent of users claim they’re able to recall advertisers running spots in professional content, versus 36 percent in content “made by people like me.”
That dynamic didn’t change much whether the video content was long or short form, good news given that short form still accounts for the majority of video views, 75 percent,  found Yahoo.
Weinberg theorized that viewers are likely in a different mindset when it comes to watching professional content — whether born on the Web or pulled from TV.
“People seem to find ads less annoying, less intrusive [in these shows],” said Weinberg. “If you perceive something as quality, it seems to increase your focus and trust.”
Also good news for Yahoo and other Web publishers: viewers at least say they are open to watching more original Web series, an area where success has been fleeting for many in the industry. Per the report, 50 percent of respondents said they’ll “follow an online original series to learn new things” while 60 percent say they’ll seek out short online professional clips in the future.
“That is something new that we haven’t come across before,” said Weinberg.

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