It’s not yet time to start calling the computer “the idiot box.” But as more and more people get video by streaming it from the Internet, we’re heading that way. By the end of 2006, 58 percent of wired Americans age 12 and up had streamed digital content from the Internet, finds a study by Ipsos Insight. Although young folks were more likely than their elders to have done so, it’s become a mainstream practice for all age cohorts (see chart below). As if we needed another factor truncating our attention spans, “shorter video clips, such as those found on video file sharing sites like YouTube, are by far the most preferred type of video file accessed today by Internet users.” Among people who’ve ever streamed video content, 51 percent have accessed “news, commentary or sports clips” in the past 30 days; 48 percent have streamed “movie/ TV trailers, previews or clips”; and 46 percent have viewed “amateur or homemade video clips” in that period. Just 14 percent streamed a whole TV show in the past 30 days, and 6 percent streamed a full movie. Still, 43 percent of digital streamers and downloaders voiced “some level of interest in downloading full-length movies in the near future”; 38 percent said the same of full TV shows.
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