Net Usage Down, Streaming Up

2/11/2001 7:00 PM Eastern

Americans are spending less time on the Internet, but more time with audio and video streaming, according to the latest research from Arbitron/Edison Media Research.

Based on a survey of 3,005 Internet users last month, Americans are spending seven hours, eight minutes online each month, nearly an hour drop from eight hours and one minute online in January 2000.

At the same time, 13 percent of Americans are accessing audio or video streams on a monthly basis this year, compared to only 10 percent last year. The study points to the correlation between an increase in the number of broadband homes and increases in streaming.

"One of the study's key findings is that broadband and streaming media go hand-in- hand," said Bill Rose, vice president and general manager for Arbitron Internet Information. "As more consumers get super-fast Internet access at home, their streaming media consumption is likely to grow."

The study is the sixth in a series from Arbitron and Edison, which pays particular attention to Internet radio, though there is plenty of fodder for cable operators and broadband content providers relating to the makeup of the streaming audience.

"Streamies," as Arbitron/Edison labels them, have a high interest in receiving audio content and are twice as interested as other Americans to download music from the Web to a PC. They are also twice as likely to be interested in receiving streamed content to cellular phones or personal digital assistants.

The study found broadband homes are twice as likely as dialup to access streamed content. Some 8 percent of "streamies" said they intended to get broadband service in the next year and 17 percent of Internet dial-up users said they planned to subscribe to broadband in the next 12 months.

Mirroring statistics from Excite@Home Corp., Arbitron/Edison found broadband users spend nine hours and 38 minutes online per week, compared to dialup users who spend seven hours and 27 minutes online per week.

Broadband homes were more likely to access streaming audio (34 percent to 29 percent) and video content (33 percent versus 19 percent) online than dialup users.

Broadband, of course, made the streaming experience that much more pleasant, with 49 percent saying it was "very easy," compared to only 26 percent of dialup homes.

Streaming music topped the list of audio applications, at 44 percent. It was followed by radio stations at 25 percent, Napster Inc. music and news reports at 24 percent, then MP3 audio at 22 percent.

On the video side, movie trailers proved the most popular, at 51 percent, followed by music videos at 42 percent, weather forecasts at 34 percent, sports highlights at 31 percent, movies at 29 percent and newscasts at 27 percent.

Although users spent less time online, they are shopping more. Consumers spent an average of $806 online in the past year, compared to $650 a year ago, even though the number of online purchasers increased only slightly, from 43 percent to 45 percent.

"We expect broadband access to double in the next year," Rose said, which increases the amount of time spent online. While 30 percent of dialup users said they expect to spend more time online in the next year, 46 percent of broadband users expects to spend more time online next year.

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