TV Viewers Watch Different Shows Online

What do Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and Vampire Diaries have in common? They’re all shows that are more popular online than on broadcast TV — that is, if you believe recent data from online video search site SideReel.

SideReel yesterday issued a comparison between the top shows based on Nielsen television ratings and those that viewers watch after searching its site, with some surprising results. While shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and NCIS top Nielsen ratings week after week, viewers that watch TV content online generally tune into a different type of fare.

Gossip Girl was ranked No. 125 in the Nielsen ratings over the past season, but is regularly the No. 1 show that viewers seek out on SideReel. One Tree Hill, the seventh most-popular show on SideReel, was ranked 118th by Nielsen, and Vampire Diaries, which holds the No. 9 spot on SideReel, was ranked 110th. How I Met Your Mother — though relatively mainstream — was significantly higher on SideReel, as the second-most popular show of the past season, compared with a Nielsen ranking of 49.

Some of the differences in ratings could be attributed to the type of content people chose to watch live on TV vs. what they watch online. American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, for instance, have a live, competitive component that most viewers choose to watch during the broadcast rather than a day or two later. Shows like Gossip Girl, meanwhile, generally tend to have a longer shelf life.

The difference could also be due to particular audience demographics. SideReel claims that 80 percent of its viewers are between the ages of 18 and 34 years old –very different than the larger TV market. And one more likely to watch Gossip Girl, whether it be online or on the TV.

For what it’s worth, SideReel isn’t the only online video search site to see different viewing patterns for online video vs. broadcast TV. A quick look at Clicker’s most popular shows of all time has shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dexter and The Daily Show ranked in its top 10. While all have a sizable online audience, those shows don’t rack up giant viewership numbers when compared against event shows like American Idol.

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