Broadband has transformed video viewing habits in Western Europe, where over 20% of broadband households have watched a film or TV program online in the past six months, according to international research firm Parks Associates.
European consumers are adopting online viewing habits with some reluctance, however. According to white paper released by Parks Associates, for all the countries surveyed, the U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, and France, over 80% of broadband households prefer a more traditional option for viewing video, including going to the cinema or watching a DVD. Many consumers are watching video online only because of the availability of free content, both legitimate and illegitimate, the research firms said.
"It will be difficult for companies to sell video streams and downloads to consumers in Europe when there is this undercurrent of reluctance," said John Barrett, director, research, Parks Associates. "Even if all piracy issues are resolved, the realities of consumer preferences could still undermine the service plans of content providers, if they don?t understand their customers."
However, the popularity of Web videos continues to grow globaly. In another survey of online video viewers by research firm Magid Advisors, 70 percent of respondents said they were unfamiliar with made-for-the-Web shows from TV and movie producers. In December, YouTube, with its mix of amateur and professional videos, attracted more than 40 percent of views in the U.S. Its competitors each attracted less than 5 percent. Hulu.com, which distributes reruns of TV shows and movies and is a joint venture of News Corp and NBC Universal, received 1.7 percent of video viewership.
Earlier this month, web tracking firm comScore reported that Internet users viewed a record 14.3 billion videos in December, an increase of 13 percent over the previous month.