Pew Survey: Surge in Online Video Consumption/Creation, Comedy and Facebook Leading the Way

Pew’s latest survey shows some major movement in online video. More women. More social networking. More uploading. More concern about privacy. And more comedy.

Pew’s latest survey regarding online video habits of Americans doesn’t contain a ton of shockers. 69% of all adult Internet users watch online video (that’s 52% of all Americans), largely driven by huge numbers from the 18-29-year-old bracket. 14% of Internet users have uploaded a video at some point.


Those are all way up from numbers collected in a similar survey in 2007, which isn’t too surprising. Hulu launched in 2007, but only to a very small beta community (I myself was a member and hardly ever used it); it wouldn’t open to the public until March 2008. Similarly, Netflix streaming was available in a fairly crippled pay-per-play format at that point–it changed to its current unlimited format in January 2008, and didn’t really take off for another few months. Online video is still in its infancy, so of course there have been drastic changes.

Pew’s demographic findings are a bit more interesting. For example, in 2007, news was the most-watched category of video; it’s since been supplanted by comedy. The success of ventures like Funny or Die and CollegeHumor, both of which have since moved to television, no doubt contribute to that increase.

A substantial section of the survey is devoted to uploader privacy. 31% of uploaders say they “always” place restrictions on their videos, 50% say they “never” do, and the remainders evidently do only sometimes. Yet uploaders are still relatively confident about this issue–only 35% feel they should be more careful, and 39% feel that only people they know will see their videos. Really, it may come down to common sense–if somebody uploads a video to YouTube or Facebook, that person probably wants people to see it.

Speaking of Facebook, the most surprising statistic I found is that very slightly more people post their videos on the social network than on YouTube (52% to 49%–some do both). This may be for the reason I stated above–YouTube is better for getting views from strangers, but as 62% of the uploaded content is classified as “home video” (as opposed to narrative or professional work, I suppose), Facebook might just be a better venue.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.