Cisco study: U.S. wins TV and mobile-watching world olympics

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Cisco Systems has released results from its new Visual Networking Index survey looking at video consumption habits around the world, and some of them may surprise you. Among other things, it gauged people’s attitudes toward online, mobile and television viewing of video content in the U.S., China, Germany and Sweden. Below, we’ve broken down the report’s findings for optimum factoid digestion:

  • The trend is reversed in Germany, where viewers spend twice as much time with user-generated than professional video — then again, Hulu has yet to reach Deutschland (a potentially ripe market). The site is blocked in many places abroad because TV rights differ from country to country, and the company has to negotiate individual deals for all the rights holders.
  • The U.S. may lay claim to the explosively popular “Evolution of Dance” and the “Numa Numa” Guy, but China is actually the leader in time spent watching online video — the average Chinese viewer sitting in front of two hours of it a day. This even beats out the time the Chinese spent watching actual television: 1.8 hours a day. Why is this? After all, internet content in China is subject to the same (if not more stringent) censorship standards. Maybe it’s because there are several YouTube-style goliaths in the online video space there, including rivals Youku and Tudou, making it more ubiquitous. Maybe it’s because TV never caught on in China as much as it has in the western world (compare that 1.8 hours in front of the tube to the 3.8 enjoyed by the average American). Remember, America invented the TV dinner.
  • The report notes general apathy when it comes to watching online video on traditional TV screens. Not even Americans seemed particularly excited at the prospect — which could spell disappointment for set-top box innovators striving to bring a mix of broadcast and internet content to living rooms everywhere. Consider Roku and Boxee (I would say Apple TV, but really, what does Apple have to worry about?), two companies that have placed their bets on this trend taking off. It could be that the market is still warming to the idea, but 2009 may be the make it or break it year.
  • About 23 percent of American video consumers watch content on their mobile phones, way more than in any of the other countries surveyed, where only about 8 to 12 percent do so. Impressively, those in the U.S. who use their phones to view video spend about 36 minutes a day at it. Predictably, the 25 to 34 demographic indulges in this activity the most (40 minutes a day). There are some bizarre stats out of the other countries on this count, however, with Swedish viewers in the same bracket typically spending 193 minutes watching video on their phones — contrasted with 15 minutes for 18 to 24-year-olds and 11 minutes for 35 to 44-year-olds. In China, 35 to 44-year-olds actually spent the most time (39 minutes daily) on mobile video. This last fact points to greater familiarity with video among older users, which may explain why online video has gained so much traction there as well.

The report goes into deeper detail on gendered and age-related patterns that you can decipher for yourself by downloading it here as a PDF. It was produced in partnership with the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, and represents just the first phase of what will likely be a series of results. So stay tuned, or at least glued to your computers and mobile phones.

[chart via NewTeeVee, courtesy of Cisco]


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