In the past several months there have been dramatic changes and new behaviors in online video consumption of all types. The “How Video is Changing the World 2020” research report is a new consumer survey taking a close look at the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on online video consumption habits and opinions. This report is based on responses from 5,000 consumers in France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Scandinavia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States age 18 and older who watch one hour or more of online video each day.
Respondents were asked questions on a variety of topics to determine how much online video they consume each day, the types of video they watch, the communication tools they use, social activities they do online, online learning opportunities they participate in, and how they see their future video consumption habits continuing to evolve.
Online video use is increasingly prevalent for personal use as well as in business. In this report the results are broken out to take a close look at both consumer-focused behaviors primarily around communication and entertainment, and business impacts brought about by the rapid shift of many people to working from home.
The word “streaming” is often primarily associated with streaming video platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. As people worldwide were forced to stay at home during the pandemic, online video has taken a whole new role as a top source of entertainment, social interactions and information. In fact, the global average of four hours and 3 minutes per day of online video viewing is a dramatic increase compared to a single hour average measured in the State of Online Video 2019 study just six months ago. In fact, over 85% of people globally now watch up to six hours of online video per day. People in India watch by far the most online video at an average of five hours and 16 minutes per day, the largest percentage (7.1%) who watch more than 12 hours per day. The lowest average viewing hours is in South Korea, closely followed by France and the UK.
Figure 1: How many hours per day do you watch/use online video?
There is a correlation between age and viewing hours. Older generations use online video the least. Age-related behavior factors such as younger people taking more online classes, video chatting with friends and playing more video games may explain their higher video viewing hours.
Figure 2: How many hours per day do you watch/use online video?
Given the significant increase in viewing hours per day, it’s not surprising that more than 70% of people reported the amount of time they watch online video increased in the past two months. The largest increase was in India and lowest increase was in South Korea.
Figure 3: Has the amount of time you use or watch online video changed in the past two months?
Figure 4: Has online video helped you to maintain your day-to-day activities?
With the significant increase in online video consumption during the pandemic, what will happen as new normal behaviors become established? The below data shows some evidence that online learning will remain popular.
Figure 5: Which of the following online learning programs do you plan to participate in over the next year?
Beyond taking classes online, most people believe video-based learning will continue and be increasingly prevalent. In fact in Singapore, 92% of respondents expect that to be the case.
Figure 6: How do you expect people to use video-based platforms to learn following the COVID-19 pandemic?
And again, there is consistency across age ranges.
Figure 7: How do you expect people to use video-based platforms to learn following the pandemic?
During COVID-19, 89% of people have used video to communicate. Video chat is most popular in India, where the majority of people (65%) use it multiple times a day.
Figure 8: Throughout the pandemic, how often have you used video to chat with friends and family to feel more connected?
Most people 18-24 use video chat every day 57%, while people 55 and older use it slightly less 49%.
Figure 9: Throughout the pandemic, how often have you used video to chat with friends and family to feel more connected?
Figure 10: Throughout the pandemic, how often have you used video to chat with friends and family to feel more connected?
While 33% of global consumers didn’t use video chat before the pandemic, this study shows that 89% now use it at least once a week.
Figure 11: Had you used a video to chat with friends and family prior to the pandemic?
Figure 12: Had you used a video to chat with friends and family prior to the pandemic?
Nearly one-third of people recently had their first eSports event experience. While the majority of people in most countries had viewed an eSports event prior to the pandemic, the majority of people in India only recently had their first experience with eSports.
Figure 13: Have you had your first experience with an eSports event in the last two months?
Figure 14: Have you had your first experience with an eSports event in the last two months?
In the last two months there was a rise in people attending online auctions. In fact, nearly one-third of people recently attended their first online auction.
Figure 15: Have you had your first experience with an online auction in the last two months?
Figure 16: Have you had your first experience with an online auction in the last two months?
With the cancelation of live events during the pandemic, people turned to virtual ones. In fact, nearly half (44%) viewed their first virtual concert in the first quarter of 2020.
Figure 17: Have you had your first virtual concert in the last two months?
Figure 18: Have you had your first virtual concert in the last two months?
With the shutdown of workout facilities, many people have participated or plan to participate in virtual workouts. This is an example of a behavior that may continue post pandemic as instructors realize the savings of not having to rent workout spaces in facilities, and people enjoy the convenience and safety of working out from home. This could have a significant impact on the business model of workout facilities.
Figure 19: Had you participated in an online fitness class or virtual workout or planned to in the next six months?
People over age 55 are least likely to participate or have plans to participate in virtual workouts.
Figure 20: Had you participated in an online fitness class or virtual workout or planned to in the next six months?
With more time spent at home, many people (66%) are taking advantage of online classes to try a new hobby or improve their skills. This is especially popular in India where 58% have participated and another 29% plan to participate in an online hobby.
Figure 21: Had you taken an online class to develop your hobbies?
Figure 22: Had you taken an online class to develop your hobbies?
With most live events cancelled, virtual substitutes have become a viable alternative for most people, especially in India and South Korea. People in the UK and Italy are the least likely to participate in a virtual event.
Figure 23: Did you or do you plan to participate in a virtual event during COVID-19 because the live event was cancelled?
Figure 24: Did you or do you plan to participate in a virtual event during COVID-19 because the live event was cancelled?
Virtual events are an acceptable option for cancelled live events, especially for younger audiences.
Figure 25: Did you or do you plan to participate in a virtual event during COVID-19 because the live event was cancelled?
Overwhelmingly, people would participate in a future virtual event.
Figure 26: Would you choose to attend a virtual event in the future?
Beyond entertainment and social interactions, streaming enables easier access to critical information. Doctor’s visits have shifted to telehealth appointments with 49% of people open to the idea, 22% of people saying they’ve recently met virtually with their doctor and another 27% planning to in the next 6 months. This is especially popular in India and Scandinavia. This is another example of a behavior that may continue long term, especially in regions where there is a shortage of medical professionals or where many people do not live near a medical facility.
Figure 27: Have you talked or met virtually with your doctor?
Figure 28: Have you talked or met virtually with your doctor?
Age does not appear to influence people’s interest virtual doctor visits.
Figure 29: Have you talked or met virtually with your doctor?
Most people (70%) have watched live streamed speeches and press conferences online (44% via news sites and 26% via social media).
Figure 30: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which live streaming site have you viewed content (speeches, press conferences, live updates) have you used the most to stay informed?
Streaming from news sites is consistent across age ranges, but for social media sites, news updates appeal more to younger viewers than older viewers over 54.
Figure 31: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, what live streaming content (speeches, press conferences, live updates) have you used the most to stay informed?
The pandemic has given new meaning to remote work. It’s no longer just a nice-to-have benefit for employees, but a necessity for desk-based workers as offices have shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, 33% say the pandemic has led to the first time their employer offered them the ability to work from home, while 36% of people already had the ability to work from home (18% already worked from home full time and 18% part time). India allows the highest percentage of workers already working from home, and the lowest percentage of jobs that don’t allow it.
Figure 32: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has your employer offered remote work options to you for the first time?
The amount of people already working from home is consistent across age ranges. Older workers have the highest percentage of jobs that don’t allow it.
Figure 33: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has your employer offered remote work options to you for the first time?
The shift to remote work hasn’t been easy for everyone, forcing workers to deal with new technology hurdles and adjusting to virtual communication. The top benefits reported by using video to work or learn from home include increased efficiency, the ability to be better connected to colleagues or other students, and easier collaboration.
Figure 34: Which of these impacts your effectiveness when working or learning from home?
The results are fairly consistent across age ranges.
Figure 35: How does video impact your effectiveness when working or learning from home?
The most popular way to communicate is instant messaging on platforms such as Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat or Facebook Messenger, closely followed by video conferencing. People in India are the heaviest users of all tools, and South Koreans are the lightest users.
Figure 36: How times per day do you use each of these communication tools to connect with people?
Nearly seven in ten (69%) use video conferencing at least once a day.
Figure 37: How many times a day do you use video conferencing to connect with people?
Video conferencing is popular across all age ranges.
Figure 38: How many times a day do you use video conferencing to connect with people?
Nearly nine in ten (89%) use Instant Messages at least once a day.
Figure 39: How many times a day do you use Instant Messages to connect with people?
Video-based courses to learn new skills are the most popular for professional development. More than half (58%) of respondents say taking an online video-based professional development class will help them find or change jobs. This was consistent across countries and age groups.
Figure 40: Which of the following is most important in helping improve your professional development and/or ability to find or change jobs?
Figure 41: Which of the following would you do to help improve your professional development and/or ability to find or change jobs?
Figure 42: Which of the following would you do to help improve your professional development and/or ability to find a job?
Figure 43: How old are you?
Figure 44: What is your gender?
Figure 45: Where do you live?
The data presented in this report demonstrates that consumers are planning to continue to use online video for their daily activities even as the pandemic abates. They have discovered the value of online video as an addition to entertainment, allowing them to maintain many activities. On the business side, working from home became an option for the first time for many, and they discovered the benefits of video for business meetings and collaboration with coworkers. As we enter our “new normal” following the pandemic, many workplaces will likely shift to being more flexible with remote working options. Expect far reaching changes in how people socialize and work, impacting entertainment, travel, the commercial office market, and many others ways we can’t foresee yet. No matter what changes occur, online video will continue to be a key enabler.
Content distributors should consider the following recommendations for providing consumers with a viewing experience that maximizes engagement regardless of device or location.
Video has increasingly become part of our daily lives in many ways. Consumers are now watching and using online video beyond entertainment to connect with people and get important news information. This has driven average daily viewing time up four times higher than just six months ago. Fortunately, global networks are doing a good job of handling the increased demand and expanding their delivery capacity to support expected continued heavy video traffic demands. Of course, viewers still expect the great performance and user experience regardless of where or how they are watching video. To allow for consistent experiences across devices, Content Delivery Networks (CDN) provide video services to make packaging and distribution of live and on-demand content simpler, by automatically packaging video in the correct format for each of the many different devices used to watch online video. This offloads the complex workflow used to create the different streaming media formats, such as HLS, MPEG-DASH, and MSS. For on-demand content, it eliminates the need to pre-encode and store multiple versions, saving storage costs. For live streaming, a single high bitrate ingest can be transcoded to the multiple bitrates required for adaptive bitrate delivery. These services ensure online video can be easily and efficiently delivered at the highest quality to as many viewers as possible.
A mobile first viewing focus is now more important than ever for content providers. However, many regions don’t have a robust broadband infrastructure in place, and mobile connections are often subject to changes in bandwidth and latency that can cause video to rebuffer when network conditions change during playback. Content providers can solve these challenges by using a CDN video delivery service that continually monitors and optimizes video delivery based on realtime conditions. This ensures each viewer receives the highest picture quality while minimizing rebuffering that causes viewers to stop watching.
Livestream viewing has been growing in popularity despite the absence of live sports. The demand for entertainment has boosted interest in eSports, video games, online auctions and online gambling to fill the void. As live sports events restart without fans in stadiums, this is an opportunity for live video coverage to experiment with new formats to make up for lack of crowds at the event. Sub-second livestreaming enables creation of interactive online experiences by integrating live data with video. Sports fans can now have more options for how they watch, including in-event online wagering on the action in regions where it is legal. Fans of eSports can participate in event commentary along with the live in-arena audience. Realtime live video opens up new business opportunities in sports, gaming, auctions, and more by making live viewing a more interactive social experience. To capture these viewers, sports broadcasters and other distributors of live online content should choose a streaming partner that offers live streaming that can deliver content to viewers with a range of latencies appropriate for specific use cases, including sub-second latency where viewer interactivity is important. This will ensure online viewers experience the action as it happens, increasing both online viewership and revenue opportunities.
This survey was fielded by a third-party company with access to consumer panels in France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Scandinavia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Approximately 500 responses were collected from each country for a total of 5,000 global responses. Survey responses were collected between April 29 and May 14, 2020.