180 million Americans watch movies and TV online each month

Hulu Plus (Modern Family) (Sept 2010)This post is not a video, but if it were, you’d probably watch it. 180 million people watch video online each month in the United States, representing about 85 percent of the Internet population. And they don’t watch one video. The average video watcher consumes 200 videos a month, totaling 13 hours, leading Dan Piech, senior product management analyst at ComScore to call the market “established and mature,” reports MediaPost.

Speaking at the OMMA Video conference in San Francisco, Piech said that there has been a definite shift toward watchers of premium video (TV shows, movies) watching their content online. 8 percent of TV fans watched their favorite shows online in 2010, up from 4 percent a year earlier. The biggest reason most people do this (70 percent) is to watch an episode they missed on TV, but 57 percent cite “convenience” as their main reason for watching online and 56 percent do so to watch an older episode.

Finally, 42 percent say they watch TV online because it has less ads. Online video has seen a big increase in ad frequency and duration in 2010, however, and viewers are getting fed up. ComScore says that 5-6.5 minutes of ads per episode is the limit most people are willing to sit through online. In 2009, that number was 6-7 minutes. Online viewers want fewer ads. The good news is that most TV shows haven’t exceeded this limit. Most premium video has five minutes (or less) of ads and commercials.

It would be interesting to see the metrics on how Netflix, Hulu, and other video services stack up to free options. While online video viewing seems to have doubled year-over-year, it’s still in its infancy. 13 hours a month is nothing when compared to the 140+ hours most Americans spend watching television. Still, it is a start. As more and more content becomes available, and Internet TVs begin to populate the market, the shift will become more dramatic.