Online Video Research Confirms My Thinking

Last week the
ever-reliable Pew folks put out their first research report on online video, and
it contains some interesting information. I won’t bother to summarize all the
findings; you can read them yourself here. 
But let me pull out
a few things that surprised me and/or caught my attention.
First, do you know
what the most frequently viewed video content is? Nope – it’s not porn. You
might think so, (and maybe people are just lying…) but the thing most
people say they watch is the news. The report says, "37% of adult
internet users say they watch or download news videos online." To me that points
out something that goes against the common wisdom. Common wisdom says that we’re
a country that’s becoming more and more uninterested in news. That’s why the
evening news has poor ratings and why Katie Couric got her job, and why a
strikingly large percentage of Americans get their news from The Daily Show.
this data tells me is that we’re a country hungry for news – we just don’t like
the traditional way it’s served up.
And why should we?
Look, I’m a news junkie myself, and before the Internet, I’d plant myself in
front of CNN Headline news for 20 minutes a day, in addition to reading the
paper. But in that 20 minutes, there was probably 4 minutes of news that really
interested me. And, often the stuff I really wanted to see was given short
So along comes the
Web and now I can decide what I’m interested in viewing. Much of it I want to
immerse myself in. And it’s not only me – it’s a lot of us.
Now, let’s take one
more example that’s even more relevant to the arts and non-profits. Older adults
are really interested in educational stuff online, as well as "do it yourself"
videos. About 29% of young adults (18-26) look at this educational video
compared to about 21% of those over 65. The similarity of these levels of
interest is noteworthy, since across age categories interest levels in other
types of video (music, humor etc.) are almost never so similar. 
So, here’s my
take-away. Even though there’s a dumbing down of our society in general, there’s
still strong interest in *learning* things. Whether it’s news, or learning about
Shakespeare or Mahler or about Epilepsy, an older audience is beginning to
recognize that video on the Web is a really valuable tool.

Let me close with yet another fantastic example of how
well Cincinnati Opera understands all of this and is taking advantage of the opportunity. Here’s a video of its
Artistic Director, Evans Mirageas, giving a backstage tour of its upcoming production of Aida.

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