An estimated 5.5 million Australians accessed an online video distribution site from home in December, according to new research released by the Australian Communication and Media Authority.

It marks a 7.8 per cent increase – a jump of 400,000 people – compared to March last year, as an increasing number of Australians turn to the internet to consume their screen content.

"The rise in online activity is particularly evident in the growing volume of data downloaded, as well as the increased take-up of higher speed internet services," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement.

"This lift in speed continues to contribute to the increasing intensity of online activities as well as growth in the use of digital video services online."

The survey, conducted by Nielsen Online, found the total number of Australian internet subscribers rose by 17 per cent last year and the average amount of data downloaded increased by 29 per cent.

E-commerce and social networking services are also drawing Australians online. Some 7.4 million people accessed retail and auction web sites and 8.4 million accessed social networking sites, such as Facebook, during the month.

YouTube remains the most popular online video site atttracting approximately 5.3 million people during December 2010, compared to 4.8 million in March 2010.

The number of Australians streaming video clips or television programs more than doubled in the year ended December 2010, from 1.2 million people to 2.7 million. An estimated 6.2 million internet users accessed online news sites, which are increasingly offering streamed video content, last December.

Australians visiting selected video sites from home, December 2010

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