A Closer Look at How Much Consumers Spend Monthly on Online Video (Exclusive)

A Vimeo study offers details into the online purchasing habits of consumers.

Vimeo has commissioned a new study on the online video landscape and the findings are not wholly unexpected: American adults are watching more videos online than they were a year ago and some people are spending more time watching videos online than on television. 

But the study also includes some insights into the purchasing habits of online viewers that become especially relevant with the proliferation of over-the-top streaming services. For example, viewers are spending an average of $32 a month on online content through transactional video-on-demand and subscription video-on-demand purchases. 

While that's half the $64 per month on average that people pay for cable, viewers have also indicated that they are willing to spend more for longer videos online. In fact, they will spend nearly double for a long video than they would for a short one. 

"Viewers are willing to pay more for longer-form content," says Vimeo head of research Courtney Sanchez. "We weren't sure what this question would reveal when we set out, but after the 5 minute mark, it almost didn't matter how long the piece of content was. They were watching it at the same frequency and they expected to be paying more for the 2-hour film than for the 10 minute piece of content." 

They also said they will pay a premium for niche content tailored to their specific interests. Vimeo users polled for this survey said that specifically they are more likely to pay for videos in the action sports, fashion, gaming, travel and art.

At Vimeo, the average purchase price for a video is between $9 and $10 but Peter Gerard, director of Vimeo on Demand, says that price could jump as high as $25 for a piece of content tailored to a specific interest. "With the shift from people buying DVDs to digital purchases, they're still willing to pay a premium price for the viewing experience," he adds. 

Another factor that drives online video payments is an ad-free viewing option. Three-fourths of the survey respondents said they would pay to not watch ads, though the price of the ad-free option is a factor in that decision.  

The study also found that the ability to pre-order a video rarely factors into a person's purchasing decision. That's because a person typically decides whether to buy the video within a 24-hour period. "A pre-order is mostly irrelevant unless there's something that come along with it," says Sanchez. "You need something more than just the pre-order itself to entice someone to buy the video ahead of time. That could be a discount or additional content."  

Overall, 97 percent of respondents said that they are spending the same time or more time watching online video than they did last year, and 56 percent said that they are spending more time watching videos online than on television. Meanwhile, 67 percent said that online videos are the same quality or higher than videos they watch on television. Sanchez attributes this to the proliferation of set-top boxes and streaming television options and the study backs her up. Of those polled, 69 percent said the ability to watch video on different devices has given them greater access to a variety of content, and 46 percent said they use three or more different devices to watch online video.

Vimeo, which conducts these studies in order to provide best-practices to the community of filmmakers who sell their work on the Vimeo on Demand platform, worked with independent research firm Latitude to produce the study, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in the U.S. ages 18 to 54 who self-reported as online video viewers.