web-original-viewerThe second thing they teach you in Interpreting Research Reports 101 Class at Journalism University is to define your terms. For instance, if a survey touting the efficacy and value of original web programming uses phrases like “Web original programming” and “National Sample of monthly online video viewers,” it’s beneficial to find out exactly what those phrases mean.

In the case of YouTube, Next New Networks and Magid‘s research on viewership of web original content, “web original programming” is defined as “high quality short videos produced exclusively for the Internet and not derived from pre-existing movies, television, or film properties.” And “National Sample of monthly online video viewers” is meant to convey a “nationally representative recruitment of adults 18 – 54 through a high quality research panel provider.”

Based on surveys completed between May 18 and June 4, 2010, the report from YouTube, Next New Networks, and Magid found that of the National Sample of monthly online video viewers, 55% watch web original programming, while 45% do not. While that’s news in and of itself, the most interesting parts of the report focuses on that 55% of web original watchers.

YouTube and Next New Networks intercepted web original video viewers during visits to their respective sites, surveyed these online video viewers, and came up with the following conclusions:

  • 60% watch Web original video content weekly;
  • 58% see Web originals as providing quality entertainment whenever they want it;
  • Over one quarter of viewers find Web original content to be more entertaining than traditional television.

The top motivators for web original watchers to tune into their web originals were “to be entertained,” and “to laugh.” Web original watchers also keep up with new episodes from their favorite titles not by RSS feeds or e-mail subscriptions, but over 50% stay up-to-date simply by “checking the site to see if any new videos have been posted.”

In terms of using social media to spread the word about their favorite programs, the survey found web original watchers had the following habits:

  • 4 out of 10 viewers share the videos with others;
  • Number of viewers who email the link: 37%; post to Facebook or MySpace: 36%; while those who share on Twitter: 10%.

Now back to Journalism University. The first thing they teach you in Interpreting Research Reports 101 Class is to know your sources. For instance, if a survey touting the efficacy and value of original web programming was commissioned by an original web programmer and an online video distribution company, you should tread carefully when interpreting the results.

That being said, everything points to the findings of YouTube, Next New Networks, and Magid to be overwhelmingly positive for web original creators and all others involved in the original online video industry. Now, the goal is to get more than 55% of monthly online video viewers to tune into web originals and (to be on the safe side) a couple independent third party studies to come to similar conclusions.
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