Today's teens would rightfully roll their eyes at anyone who still maintains that listening to audio or watching video on the Internet is strictly for kids. With more Americans than ever having access to high-speed, broadband Internet connections at home, streaming media consumption is surging. And the demographic composition of its users is also growing â€” beyond teenagers.
About 80 million Americans say they have listened to streaming audio or watched streaming video over the Internet, up from 61 million in 2001, according to a report released in February by New York-based Arbitron, an international media research firm, and Somerville, N.J.-based Edison Media Research. The study, â€œInternet 8: Advertising vs. Subscription â€” Which Streaming Model Will Win?â€? is based on the findings of a telephone survey of 2,508 Americans age 12 and older conducted in January. Participants were randomly chosen from a national sample of Arbitron's fall 2001 survey diarykeepers.
Just two years ago, more teens and young adults were using online audio and video than any other group. In 2000, Arbitron found that 39 percent of teens and 35 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds had listened to or viewed a Webcast, compared with 23 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and 9 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds. But Arbitron's new report, which looks at â€œmonthly streamiesâ€? â€” those who have listened to or watched a Webcast in the past month â€” shows that more older folks are now participating. In fact, of the 40 million monthly streamies, a greater percentage are ages 25 to 34 (21 percent) and 45 to 54 (17 percent) than are 18 to 24 (16 percent) or younger (19 percent).
In addition to its reputation for attracting a youthful audience, streaming media has also been long identified as having a largely white audience. Indeed, 74 percent of monthly streamies are white. However, Arbitron's latest survey identifies blacks and Hispanics as â€œthe new high-growth frontier of the Internet.â€? Fifty-five percent of black Internet users and 57 percent of Hispanics say they have used streaming audio or video, compared with 48 percent of whites.
Streaming media consumers are also wealthier than the Internet community at large. The study reveals that monthly streamies have more discretionary income and buy more products online than Internet users as a whole. Nearly half of monthly streamies live in homes with annual incomes that exceed $50,000, compared with 43 percent of all Internet users and just 34 percent of the total U.S. population. Seventy percent of monthly streamies have purchased something online, compared with 56 percent of all Internet users.
Monthly streamies spend almost twice as much time online than Internet users as a whole (an average of 2 hours, 16 minutes daily, compared with 1 hour, 13 minutes for all Internet users). But their additional time online doesn't stop this group from patronizing other media. In fact, monthly streamies also spend slightly more time listening to radio than Internet users as a whole.
The increase in at-home broadband users â€” 27 million, up from 15 million in 2001 â€” bodes well for the growth of streaming media. Currently, 59 percent of people with at-home broadband Internet access consume streaming media, compared with 47 percent of those who live in homes with dial-up Internet connections.
The trick now is for Internet providers to find a way to give fans of streaming media what they crave and to make money doing it. Of course, it remains to be seen whether they will adopt a commercial-free subscription model like HBO or perhaps use an advertising and subscription model like AOL. But one thing is clear: Streaming media has begun to attract a more mature market and now has opportunities that stretch beyond its original teen audience.
For more information, visit www.arbitron.com.
STREAMIES DON'T GO POSTAL
Almost half (48 percent) of Internet users who used streaming media in the prior month say they would rather give up postal mail than e-mail, compared with just a quarter (28 percent) of the total population who say the same.
PERCENT OF AMERICANS (AGE 12 AND OLDER) WHO WOULD RATHER GIVE UP POSTAL MAIL THAN E-MAIL:
|Total Internet users||34%|
|Internet users with broadband access at home||45%|
|Internet users who've used streaming media in the last month||48%|
|Source: Arbitron/Edison Media Research|
PAY FOR PLAY
While streamies enjoy listening to music and watching videos online, just a quarter (24 percent) say they would be â€œvery interestedâ€? in paying to hear a concert online and only 7 percent would be similarly interested in paying to watch an NBA game.
|TYPE OF WEBCAST||PERCENT OF â€œAUDIO STREAMIESâ€?* WHO ARE â€œVERY INTERESTEDâ€? IN PAYING A SMALL SUBSCRIPTION FEE FOR VIDEO ACCESS||PERCENT OF â€œVIDEO STREAMIESâ€?* WHO ARE â€œVERY INTERESTEDâ€? IN PAYING A SMALL SUBSCRIPTION FEE FOR AUDIO ACCESS|
|Songs and albums from favorite artists||27%||N/A|
|*Audio streamies are people who have listened to an audio Webcast at least once. Video streamies are people who have watched a video Webcast at least once.|
|Source: Arbitron/Edison Media Research|