Big TV Shows = Big Online Numbers


It’s not the kind of news that is going to help Chris Anderson sell books, but it does make sense: Big TV shows from the big networks are piling up big online viewer numbers, which at some point could become a big business.

According to a post at MediaDailyNews, streams of ABC’s hit shows Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives helped draw in nearly 3 million unique visitors in October and November, before dropping off a bit. With its CSI and NCIS shows, CBS also had a big fall, with about a million unique visitor streams in October and almost 2 million in November. Fox wasn’t as successful (not cresting a million views in any of the Fall months) and NBC embarrassingly didn’t have enough streams to measure.

Since the shows are heavily promoted on the networks, it stands to follow that they would have big online followings as well. Now that’s not to say that indie online networks won’t attract their own followings, but the big bucks are going to follow the eyeballs, and right now that means network shows shrunk down to PC size.



Also with respect to Paul’s original post, Nielsen NetRatings cannot currently track video streams. It can only track visits from its panelists to the domain name that hosts the content itself (typically about 25-35 of its panelists must visit that domain during the month in order for them to track it), which it then projects out to represent the US population.

A stream initiation may not have actually occured for any number of reasons (server problems, problems with the user’s computer such as an incompatible flash version etc etc).

It’s a very rough estimate in other words…


To be honest you can’t really trust any of these.

There are serious problems with most of the panel-based traffic measurement services, particularly with the ones most frequently cited by reporters (ComScore and Nielsen NetRatings). This is largely a function of their panel-based metholodogy, but as it turns out Alexa is in many cases substantially worse because its data is collected only from users who have installed its toolbar. Quantcast is a great idea and could have some potential if they can get people to tag their sites with their javascripts.

I work for a large television network with an web presence, and we would almost never use traffic numbers from Alexa, NetRatings NetView, or ComScore to inform our business strategy. They’re more for initiating conversations with advertisers or for PR, since the data is supplied by a third party. Very frequently, even with large sites, these guys are way off in terms of direction.

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