Trendstream, a specialist social media research consultancy, has launched a preview of "The Global Web Index," a twice-yearly survey into Web usage intended to quantify global Web trends and the impact of social media. Focusing on online video, the research indicates that video is transforming the Web and the way in which consumers interact with video content. In fact, it is having such a major impact that online video will ultimately affect the way the entire broadcasting industry evolves.

The online survey, conducted among 1,000 active Web users aged 16-65 in the United States earlier this year, indicates that online video now rivals traditional broadcasting. Having gone from zero to mass market globally in just three years, online video is the fastest growing media platform in history. In one week in January 2009, 97 million Americans viewed a clip online, as many as are tuning into any major network. With 72 percent of U.S. Web users watching clips on the Internet, online video outstrips both blogging and social networking and is now the leading social media platform.

As well as rivaling traditional broadcasters for market share, online video is winning a new place in the hearts of active Web users. Where traditional broadcasting is a one-way street, Web users are now embracing the two-way nature of the online video experience. In January 2009, 39 percent of respondents shared a clip online, and a further 31.5 percent contributed to the burgeoning mass of online media by uploading clips themselves. Homemade content is by far the most popular content to upload with 27 percent of those who uploaded a clip contributing material from this genre.

The growth also cuts across generations; 82 percent of 16 and 17 year olds watched video online compared with 65 percent of those aged 55 to 64. Some 52 percent of 16 and 17 year olds shared video clips online compared with 29 percent of 55 to 64 year olds, and a further 46 percent and 21 percent respectively uploaded a video. With users from across the age spectrum watching, creating and distributing video content online, the so-called "digital divide" is not as wide as might be expected. It is also clear that the online video audience is far more sophisticated and influential than was previously supposed, with the heaviest viewers being in the 25 to 34 age bracket.

Full results from the first wave of "The Global Web Index," a survey of 16,000 consumers in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, China, South Korea, Australia and Japan will be published in June and then updated bi-annually.

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