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Online Viewers Want Original Content

NEW YORK—Viewers of original programming online prefer unique shows to watching news, sports and daytime programming on television, and they like it almost as much as they do primetime TV. That's the results of a recent survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The new research, produced by GfK as an update to last year's study, also reveals that over one in five (22%) American adults watch original digital video each month, bringing the audience to 52 million per month. This represents a 15 percent increase from 45 million per month as reported in 2013.

The study report illustrates that this online original programming is perceived as more innovative, edgy, unique and mobile in comparison to regular TV. In addition, compared with a year ago, the IAB said these aspects are cited almost three times more often for what is liked better about original digital video over typical primetime TV by monthly viewers of both.

Indeed, mobility and flexibility of viewing is cited as the top driver for watching "made for digital" content (41%) and is considered a key reason the study's participants said they'd rather log viewing video online than tuning into traditional television shows. The ability to watch "anytime, anywhere" is also reflected by a sharp increase in the mobile viewing of original digital video.

Smartphones (46%) and tablets (41%) are now being used to view this sort of programming at levels almost twice those of a year ago. In addition, nearly half (48%) use internet-connected TVs to watch original digital video, creating a similar viewing environment to TV, also nearly double the rate in 2013.

"Original digital programming has captured the attention of consumers across the country," said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB, in a statement. "This study underscores the importance of this innovative medium to advertisers who demand the kind of reach and engagement that 'made for digital' content delivers."

The study also highlights how viewing habits for original digital video strongly differs from traditional television:

-- More than half of monthly original digital video users report their viewing of the medium is unplanned – compared with only about one quarter of those that watch TV online and regular primetime television viewers.

-- Across television dayparts and categories, there has been a significant decline in planned viewing with patterns becoming more similar to how consumers approach original digital viewing.

-- Social media sites are playing a larger role in the discovery of original digital programming.

-- Original digital video viewers conduct more social media activities related to the shows they watch online (52%) than they do for primetime TV (38%).

-- Participants said that original digital video is more typically consumed solo and in shorter durations.