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At industry events, TV network execs often stress that streamed versions of their broadcast programs are additive and not cannibalistic. But a report from audience tracker Integrated Media Measurement Inc. says that at least half of viewers are using the web not just as fill-in or catch-up, but as a TV replacement (see chart below). Looking at primetime shows across the major networks, IMMI found that viewers see up to 20 percent of their TV shows online, though that varies according to genre and the amount of time the show has been on the air. This amount is higher now and in a few cases, is higher even than DVR viewing of the broadcast shows. Some of the specific findings of the IMMI report (PDF), which examined the consumption of 3,000 teens and adults who made up a single panel across six markets — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Denver. Panel members were given a cell phone that tracked their media use during May:
— A large chunk of online viewers are not watching for primetime episodes on TV.
— Comparing online viewers to live viewers, the two largest groups are 25- to 44-year-olds making up 58.4 percent of the audience of streaming primetime shows. Addressing the assumption that 13- to 24-year olds make up the largest viewing block for online TV programming, IMMI’s number finds the exact opposite: only 19.1 percent of 13-24 year olds watching primetime shows on the web.
— Women (55 percent) are slightly more inclined to watch primetime TV programs online than men (45 percent).
— Online viewers are also less likely to use a DVR, as 29 percent of live TV viewers say they frequently use a digital recorder versus 22 percent of those who tend to view shows on the web.
— TV’s still better for advertisers: One of the most frequent sources of the view that DVRs and online viewing enhances TV watching is David Poltrack, chief research officer, CBS (NYSE: CBS). Writing in AdAge, Poltrack, who also serves as president of research unit CBS Vision, argues that advertising data proves that TV remains dominant. Pointing to a recent study CBS did on prospective new car buyers, Poltrack said 57 percent said that TV was the source of their awareness of new models, while 43 percent said the internet was where they received their info. While Poltrack’s report does not refute IMMI’s findings, as full-length episodes catches on, advertisers may want to start reconsidering whether TV’s dominant reach will hold.