For the first time, Nielsen has released public rankings of individual TV shows watched on network web sites. Lost was the big winner in December, pulling in more than 1.4 million viewers on ABC.com, followed by Saturday Night Live with 1.1 million viewers on NBC.com, and Grey’s Anatomy with 879,000 viewers on ABC.com.
The important caveat to these rankings is that Nielsen only included data from the network sites themselves, not outside aggregators like Hulu, which carries NBC and FOX content. Nielsen reported that Hulu streamed more than 216 million videos in December, so that would undoubtedly have an impact on the overall rankings.
The Nielsen data also shows how people are using the web to watch TV on the web differently. While Lost topped December’s rankings, the new season wasn’t even on TV until January, so audiences were most likely refreshing themselves before diving into the mystery. Saturday Night Live on the other hand got a boost from the online buzz generated by sketches that go viral. And then there are the people who are watching online to catch up on missed episodes.
And just as a point of comparison, Grey’s Anatomy had 879,000 unique viewers on ABC.com during the month December. On the night of December 11 alone, Grey’s Anatomy had 6.2 million viewers.
Nielsen also looked at the time spent with broadcast TV shows, which produced a much different list. Audiences went beyond just trying these shows out, they stayed to watch more of the program (and the ads). While Priveleged only got 29,000 unique viewers, those viewers spent 214.6 minutes (more than three and a half hours) watching it in December. Chuck and Lipstick Jungle may not grab people’s attention on TV, but viewers spent more than two hours watching each of those shows.
And if that wasn’t enough NewTeeVee data for you, Knowledge Networks released a new report today that said about one in five (21 percent) Internet users between the ages of 13 and 54 now watches full TV programs online.