Who are the Canadian Videonauts?

Three quarters of Canadians subscribe to a high-speed Internet service that gives them access to online video content.

That means that 75% of Canadians can choose among different viewing experiences including the 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, the 1,000 hours of video content recently posted online by Yahoo, the content made available by Canadian over-the-top (OTT) television service providers including most recently Canal+ Canada or catch-up programming available on most conventional TV channel sites.

Who are these Canadians who watch online video content and who are referred to as “videonauts”? And what can be said about their viewing experience? To draw up a portrait of the Canadian videonaut, we consulted a few pollsters who conducted surveys with Canadian Internet users who watch online video content.

Not surprisingly, the Canadian videonaut is young

The results of all surveys conducted should come as no surprise: Canadian videonauts are young. In 2012, 79% of Internet users aged 16 to 24 downloaded or watched online television content.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 358-0153 – Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), CANSIM (site visited on 2012-12-22)

Based on the findings of this Statistics Canada survey, the number of Internet users who watched audiovisual content online increased from 3% in 2000 to 43% in 2010. Of course, this is due not only to the multiplication of available content and technological advancements, but also to how Internet use has evolved. The questions asked during previous surveys focussed on online television shows or movies; video clips were added in 2010 and that could explain the significant increase according to Statistics Canada.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 358-0153 – Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), CANSIM (site visited on 2012-12-22)

And what about teenagers?

There is not much data on teenagers’ online viewing habits given that—theoretically at least—parents must give their consent to pollsters when children of minor age are involved, which complicates the task.

One interesting piece of data, obtained from the Ipsos Canadian inter@ctive Reid Report, sheds some light on how teenagers use the Internet. A majority of them feel obliged to follow the latest technological developments (63%) and feel that they are missing out on something if they do not surf the net on a daily basis (57%).

Men and women are about equally represented

There are slightly more men among videonauts, in particular with respect to “downloading or watching online movies or video clips.” However, women are just about equally represented among this group.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 358-0153 – Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), CANSIM (site visited on 2012-12-22)


Everyone prefers YouTube

It appears that both men and women—whether young or old—watch more movies and video clips than television online. In the case of the respondents, chances are that YouTube comes to mind when “online video clips” are mentioned.

This is confirmed by a study of videonauts’ preferences in terms of content. Both French- and English-speaking audiences prefer YouTube by a large margin.

Source: OTM/MTM 2013 (Canadian respondents aged 18 and up)

Source: OTM/MTM 2013 (Canadian respondents aged 18 and up)

And mobile experiences are increasingly popular

According to YouTube, approximately 40% of all time spent watching videos on YouTube involves mobile devices.

Although the PC remains the preferred medium to watch online videos, mobile platforms are nevertheless gaining in popularity. Indeed, the proportion of French-speaking viewers aged 18 and up who use a mobile device to watch TV on the Internet remains moderate (14% use a smartphone and 16% use a tablet, respectively 75% and 78% more than during the previous MTM survey). As for English-speaking viewers, the increases are less significant but the proportions are higher, i.e., +23% in both cases.

For a country that occupies the second global position in terms of the number of hours spent each month watching online video content (at 24.8 hours), according to comScore’s Canada Digital Future in Focus 2013, this is certainly a trend worth following. In particular, jointly with Canada’s smartphone penetration rate which increased by 17 points between 2011 and 2012 (once again according to comScore), the proportion of mobile service subscribers increased from 45% to 62%.

Danielle Desjardins
Danielle Desjardins offers analysis, research and writing services for media and cultural enterprises through her company, La Fabrique de sens. Before that, she was director of planning for Radio-Canada, where she was responsible for strategic, corporate and regulatory matters for more than 20 years.
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