Downloading Preferred Over Streaming
January 9, 2008
If there’s something the younger population has become accustomed to over the last decade, it’s the ability to download virtually any song – whether from P2P or iTunes – on demand. This on demand ability has translated awkwardly to the video scene, where downloading TV shows (or movies) remains rather cumbersome for the average user. The size of the average file has much to do with this disparity, as sharing large, hard drive consuming files isn’t high on the priority list of the Internet community. However, there’s growing evidence that this trend is changing.
The TV show downloading market can probably be separated into two categories, authorized and unauthorized. P2P-induced bandwidth bottlenecks suggest that unauthorized downloading likely takes up an overwhelming majority of the market, as the demand for High Definition and top quality content is insatiable. Currently, no authorized method exists that can match the depth, quality, and variety of TV shows available via unauthorized avenues. Yet the level of skill required to take advantage of this is far beyond the ability of the average TV show enthusiast.
However, this doesn’t mean that TV video downloading hasn’t become a reality. Regardless of skill level, TV show fans are finding they can still enjoy their favorite programming online. The research firm Ipsos Insight today released a study
which finds that a growing number of people are finding the shows they like online. And just like music, they want their TV shows for free. Unlike the music revolution however, these shows come at a "price".
Typically, if the average netizen wants free TV shows, they’ll have to contend with either ad-supported files or streaming video. This hasn’t appeared to discourage many people however, as Ipsos’ study found two interesting facts: One, free content is still king, and two, there’s a significant disparity in the method of acquisition (download vs. streaming) between younger and older American adults.
Specifically, Ipsos found that young adults aren’t too bothered by ad-supported TV shows, as long as they can download and keep the file (and providing it’s free). According to Ipsos, 50% of 18-34 year olds preferred to download free, ad-supported TV shows. This number dropped off as we climb up the age bracket. 32% of the 35-55 age group download TV shows, while only 20% of the 55+ age group downloaded TV programming.
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It also appears that older adults are less likely to download video content, and chose streaming content instead. Ipsos found that the older the individual, the more likely he or she was to choose streaming over downloading. An interesting statistic found that 56% of adults 55 and older choose streaming, while only 19% of 18-25 year olds preferred this method.
Why is this happening? Ipsos thinks it’s because the younger age demographic has become accustomed to instant entertainment gratification. The habits of Napster, Kazaa, Scour, Audio Galaxy and BitTorrent have carried over to the video phase of the online entertainment revolution. This explanation has merit, however there’s more to work behind the scenes than the Ipsos study lets on. Although it focuses directly on authorized content, the video and movie trading industry on file-sharing and P2P networks has become one of the reasons for the BitTorrent and Usenet booms. Like the music industry, it’s also forced the studios to distribute videos online. Ipsos is right that younger people tend to download video files, but where they are acquiring these files is a topic for another study.
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