Video news takes off online, Pew says, but are viewers tuning in?

Young people looking to make a career in journalism should focus on the burgeoning digital media world, a Pew Research report on the state of the media suggests. Sites like Buzzfeed, Gawker and Vice Media are steadily adding jobs. But it's not all roses: Viewership of online video-based news isn't growing, and many native digital news outlets have yet to turn a profit.

Pew Research U.S. news video viewingSome 63 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew Research watch some kind of online video, and 36 percent watch news video online. However, growth in the number of online news video viewers slowed drastically--only 9 percent between 2009 and 2013, compared to 27 percent growth between 2007 and 2009.

While digital news outlets have seen explosive growth in the last decade--85 percent were founded after 2005, and 30 percent launched after 2010--a profitable business model for the media form has yet to emerge.

"First Look Media founder and funder Pierre Omidyar has acknowledged that solvency is at least five years away. The Huffington Post has 575 editorial employees, but is still only 'flirting with profitability' according to analyst Ken Doctor," the Pew Research report said.

A number of factors are keeping online video news from becoming the profit center many hope it will be, the report said. In addition to direct competition from the still-strong television news segment, ad revenues aren't a big part of the online video news picture yet. The online video advertising market is just 9.7 percent of all digital advertising revenue, or $4.15 billion. Also, major investments were made by news organizations last year, such as NBC's acquisition of Stringwire and the expansion of HuffPost Live overseas, but those may take time to pan out.

Pew Research smartphone video viewingStill, there are encouraging signals that consuming news online is here to stay. Online video is catching two key age groups: 48 percent of those aged 18-29, and 49 percent of people aged 30 to 49, watch news videos online.

News video is also popular with the smartphone set. Of the 88 percent of U.S. viewers who watch online videos on their smartphones, 53 percent watch news video.

In addition, legacy news organizations--both print and television--are moving into the digital space, at varying rates. Bloomberg established a digital news desk last year. NBC, in addition to Stringwire, purchased a minority stake in NowThisNews, which produces short news videos directed at the mobile market. And The Texas Tribune used Kickstarter to raise more than $60,000 to purchase the equipment needed to live-stream the state's gubernatorial race.

For more:
- Pew Research has this report
- Poynter has this story

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