The interest in online video has skyrocketed over the past year. Videos were offered for download on iTunes. Networks began experimented with pre-releasing new shows online — and offering instant reruns. Internet news sites put up additional video coverage. And then Google scooped up YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Computer screens started looking more and more like TV screens.

And now comes the news, from the "Consumer Internet Barometer," maintained by the Conference Board and TNS Research, that one out of every 10 online users watches television broadcasts online.

Three out of four online viewers report no change in their viewing habits, but it is obvious that a shift in viewing habits has begun.

True, though growing in popularity, few users are willing to pay for ITV as yet. Most view ITV via streaming and free downloads — 53% and 49%, respectively.

"Although online television viewing is not a widespread phenomenon, the proportion of users is likely to increase over time given consumers’ penchant for entertainment," said Lynn Franco of the Conference Board.

In a sign of things to come, MindShare recently surveyed online kids and teens and found that 28% of them already watch TV online.

With current online viewers claiming personal convenience and avoiding commercials as their top reasons for watching TV broadcasts online, other users are sure to become intrigued.

In fact, more than three out of five online TV viewers cite personal convenience as the major reason for watching TV online. Other reasons for viewing include portability and a preference for computer viewing.

With 62% watching TV news, the barometer showed that online viewers watch news more often than any other type of television content. Close to 50% of viewers watch entertainment. More than 25% cited catching up on missed content, previews, sports and watching entire episodes of shows as other top draws.

eMarketer predicts that by the end of the decade over half of all US households will be using advanced TV services such as video-on-demand and digital video recording.