Web surfers attracted to streamed content

Streaming media use spiked this year, with a 65 percent increase in home PC users viewing audio and video delivered over the Web, a new study says.

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Streaming media use spiked this year, with a 65 percent increase in home PC users viewing audio and video delivered over the Web, according to a new study.

The Nielsen/NetRatings report, released Tuesday, likely came as welcome news to companies showcasing products at the Streaming Media West 2000 conference this week in San Jose, Calif.

"Now that the backbone of the Internet is getting better, more people have broadband, or people are more comfortable with audio and video content; they're accessing that information in that form in greater and greater numbers," said T.S. Kelly, director of Internet Media Strategies at NetRatings.

The study found that at home, 35 million Web surfers used streamed content in November 2000, a 65 percent gain from the 21 million during the same month last year. Overall, 36 percent of all Web surfers viewed streamed content in November 2000, compared with 28 percent a year ago.

Analysts said streamed previews such as movie trailers have been highly successful online, including "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Charlie's Angels." They expect networks and movie studios to continue down that digital road.

Kelly said streaming consumption is closely linked to huge media events, such as the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the presidential election.

"It's not so much that people go on to get stream; they go onto sites that are chockablock with great information," Kelly said.

Streaming activity is also increasing in various ethnic and gender groups, the report found.

In November 1999, only 1.6 million African-Americans viewed streamed content at home. That number skyrocketed 118 percent to 3.5 million people last month. Streaming media usage by Caucasians jumped 64 percent to 30.1 million people in November 2000, use by Asian-Americans rose 41 percent to 796,589, and Hispanic usage grew 34 percent to 1.84 million.

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Streaming media on the rise
T.S. Kelly, director of Internet media strategies, NetRatings

More women viewed streamed content over the past year, with usage rising to 16 million women in November 2000 from 9 million a year ago. The number of men watching streamed content rose to 19 million last month from 12.1 million in November 1999.

Nielsen/NetRatings also found that about 6.8 million people between the ages of 2 and 18 viewed streamed content during November 2000, a 65 percent increase from the same period last year.

Kelly said that the rise is connected to sites that children and teens use, such as Nickelodeon's Web site and MTV, as popular sites incorporate richer content.

"This is the first step toward that whole issue of convergence and the use of content," Kelly said. "Streaming media consumption is a telltale sign of people using media in various different ways than what we were used to back in the days of radio and TV."