In Depth

Column: The More Things Change ...

Maybe the Internet isn’t that different than television. Maybe this crazy little viral YouTube revolution isn’t all that revolutionary.

Because it turns out our Internet video diet looks a lot like our traditional TV diet. That’s the conclusion of a recent report from Forrester, being released publicly for the first time here in this column.

Here’s why I say our online tastes mirror our offline tastes. Because the more than 70 million unique visitors on YouTube each month are watching a heck of a lot of traditional fare, such as music videos from Rihanna and Avril Lavigne, along with clips from CNN, ABC and “Late Show with David Letterman.”

“It’s snack-able content and relatively short-lived,” said James McQuivey, the Forrester analyst who wrote the report.

And when we’re not watching YouTube, to what are our eyes drawn?

Interestingly enough, the answer is news. News is the second-biggest category of online video viewership. In fact, more than half—about 51%—of online video viewers watch news online in any given month. The study found that 32% of online video viewers watch local news and 39% watch national news.

Teeing up next are TV shows. Nearly one-third of all online video viewers watch TV clips, while one-quarter watch full-length episodes.

Mr. McQuivey said that networks are snagging a 50% or higher cost per thousand ad impressions from advertisers with online video than with TV. The most popular shows pull in $60 and $70 CPMs online. You can also bet that even with a 50% increase in CPMs, networks are still going need to make up for a lot of potentially lost ad revenue when we start tuning out the big screen. So be prepared for more ads in streaming video.

That’s why advertising in streaming video is the fastest growing segment of the interactive ad market and should hit $7.2 billion in 2012.

And it’ll hit that figure because the consumers of the world pretty much want to watch the same stuff online that we’re already watching on TV.