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Web Video Viewing Catching On

More than half of all adults who cruise the Internet say they have used the Web to either watch or download video content, according to a new report.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted what the report's author, senior research specialist Mary Madden, says is the organization's first major survey of online video viewing, between February 15 and March 3, 2007.

The survey report finds that "57 percent of online adults have used the Internet to watch or download video, and 19 percent do so on a typical day."

Driving use of video online are the increasing penetration of broadband – both at home and work -- combined with "a dramatic push by content providers to promote online video [that] has helped to pave the way for mainstream audiences to embrace online video viewing," the report states.

Among the report's other findings, 57 percent of online viewers share links to videos with others and three-fourths say they receive such links from others. This contributes to both social and viral aspects of the emerging trend of watching video content online.

However, many fewer users upload video than watch existing content, and that is further differentiated by the age of the users.

For instance, a fairly small percentage, only eight percent, of adult Internet users have uploaded video content. In contrast, nearly double that number, 15 percent, of Internet users aged 18-29 have contributed video.

Additionally many viewers prefer professionally produced content to amateur videos. Sixty-two percent favor professional videos compared to 19 percent that would opt for amateur works.

Content, too, is a differentiator between the young and the not-so-young. Among young adults, aged 18 to 29, comedy reigns. In that group, 56 percent prefer watching humorous videos, compared with 43 percent who would rather watch news.

For all other age groups, however, news video is supreme at 37 percent, the report finds.

Interestingly, despite the apparent popularity of Monday's Democratic presidential debates on video site YouTube, only 15 percent of all respondents say they download or watch political videos. Meanwhile, 22 percent say they watch educational videos online.

Perhaps ironically, only 6 percent of online viewers say they view or download porn videos.

The survey queried 1,492 Internet users age 18 or older and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, according to the report.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project's site is located here.