Fully, 55 percent of users of the Web hangouts watch streaming videos, and 21 percent download video, Parks Associates said. In addition, people who visit these sites at least once a week are six times more likely to download movies and TV shows, and 1.5 times more likely to watch streaming video than Web users who don't visit these sites.
As a result, the networks are growing in importance as a market for free video streaming backed by advertisements and the online sale of films and TV programs, Yuanzhe Cai, director of broadband and gaming at Parks Associates, said in a statement.
To take advantage of the market, online video sites will need to beef up social networking features to build a bigger audience, Cai said. On the other hand, companies running social networks will need to find ways to broaden their current demographics.
Two thirds of frequent users of social networks are younger than 24 years old. This age group, in general, has less money to spend than older Web users, Cai said.