Do Only 52 Million Adults Watch Original Shows on Netflix and YouTube?

Do Only 52 Million Adults Watch Original Shows on Netflix and YouTube?

New IAB study finds the adult audience for online video keeps growing, but it might be underestimating the number of viewers

Online video is one of the fastest growing industries in entertainment, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau is out to prove just how quickly it is growing. According to a new study by the organization, more than 20 percent of American adults watch original digital video — shows made specifically for YouTube, Yahoo, Netflix and other online destinations — every month.

That amounts to 52 million people, an increase from 45 million per month last year. The IAB is the host of the Digital Content NewFronts, an event that lets online video players like YouTube and Yahoo pitch advertisers on their upcoming shows.

Also read: Will Netflix and Amazon's Push Into Original Series Hurt the TV Business?

This study, a companion to a study at the beginning of the two-week showcase, is intended to highlight the growing value of online video. A key phrase for IAB is “adults,” since it proves that it is not just kids watching videos on YouTube and Yahoo.

Yet let's look at some other numbers.

Netflix counts more than 40 million subscribers, according to its latest earnings report.  Google sites (aka YouTube) count 155 million monthly viewers, according to the latest numbers from Comscore. Facebook has more than 80 million. AOL draws 69 million. Yahoo draws 55 million.

None of those statistics account for the number of people watching “original digital video.” People use Netflix to watch movies and other TV shows, and go on YouTube to watch music videos and highlights from TV shows. Yet given that massive appetite for video online, could this study, based on surveys and focus groups, be underestimating the number?

Read the full study here.