Carrier Evolution

Men 18 to 34 are now spending more time streaming video than watching live TV, one third visit YouTube multiple times a day, half subscribe to a YouTube channel, and two thirds shared YouTube videos in the past week, according to Generation V , a comprehensive YouTube study of consumer video trends,

The study also finds that 40 percent of women 25 to 49 have subscribed to a YouTube channel, half shared a video this past week, and one third regularly share online video with their kids or parents.

Those changes in viewership illustrate just one aspect of the range of underlying changes that are needed before over the top online video can seriously challenge traditional TV and subscription video services.

Those changes obviously include extensive availability of high-speed broadband access service good enough to support consistently high quality video experiences. Consumers have to create new habits about watching TV and video, including willingness to consume on a variety of devices and screens, with the Internet being the delivery mechanism.

At some point, the ability to view Internet-delivered video on any screen must include easy viewing on the largest screens in a home, and that means further development of in-home devices that make this possible.

Also, users will have to create new habits relating to the sorts of programs they want to watch. The traditional difference between user-generated amateur video and professionally-produced programs will have to narrow.

That could happen in a couple of ways. People could decide they prefer the over the top programming, or traditional programmers could start making their content available for over the top consumption.

Also, artists and performers could themselves start to create programming directly for over the top delivery, narrowing the gap between traditional and newer formats. YouTube, for example, is trying to bridge the gap.

YouTube formats for original programming include themes that resemble traditional video subscription networks. In other words, YouTube will deliberately try to create online versions of traditional cable TV channels, at least to the degree that “channels” and “networks” have a theme.

Revenue sources will develop rather naturally as all those elements come into existence on a significant scale.

In a sense, over the top alternatives represent the latest fragmentation of the TV audience that began decades ago with the advent of the VCR and cable TV. Online video is only the next great wave of audience fragmentation.