Blog Post

Want to Find Network TV Online? Better Be Quick

A full 90 percent of network TV episodes make it online, but most are gone after six weeks or less, according to an exhaustive study performed by online video search site Clicker, which looked at how much broadcast network TV content makes its way online — and how much of it stays online.

Clicker’s study looks at all shows that came online during the past Fall or Spring seasons on ABC (s DIS), CBS (s CBS), Fox (s NWS), NBC (s GE) and The CW (s TWX), and compares that data to the number of shows that were available through broadcast only. What it found was that a surprisingly high percentage of episodes on broadcast TV were made available on ad-supported video websites.

But how soon those TV episodes came online, and how long they lasted online tended to vary. According to Clicker, about half of all TV episodes posted came online within a day of their original air date, and nearly all were available within two weeks of their original air date.

As for when they’re taken down: of the 4,420 broadcast episodes Clicker tracked during those seasons, about 90 percent were later removed. About 60 percent of those episodes were gone after three weeks of being online, and 90 percent were gone after six weeks.

Of the networks that Clicker tracked, ABC and CBS posted the most shows online, but The CW had the highest percentage of its shows online, with 100 percent being available to U.S. Internet users.

ABC didn’t put episodes of Wife Swap or Romantically Challenged online, and full episodes of America‚Äôs Funniest Home Videos were also missing — although ABC made clips of those videos available. Meanwhile, CBS held back The Big Bang Theory, The Mentalist, Criminal Minds and Cold Case and NBC didn’t post episodes of Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU online.
Finally, Fox favorites American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance were missing from its online lineup last season, but episodes from SYTYCD are being made available online this season.

Primetime series made up the majority of shows posted online, with 84 percent, compared to daytime (10%) and late night (6%). However, due to the fact that daytime and late-night TV series run five days a week instead of the typical one day a week for most primetime series, the bulk of the episodes posted were from those times. Primetime shows had an average of 18 episodes a piece available online, while most daytime or late-night shows had more than 100 episodes posted online.

Image of clock courtesy (CC-BY-SA) of Flickr user Jinx!

Related content on GigaOM Pro: From Spots to Spikes: TV Taps Into the Cloud (subscription required)

10 Responses to “Want to Find Network TV Online? Better Be Quick”

  1. MorituriMax

    It seems to me that at its most basic, everything revolves around one person watching one program, be it a TV epidode, news, entertainment, music, or a movie. No matter where I happen to be, if I pay for content I should be able to watch that content anywhere, anytime, on anything. I should be able to back it up so I can watch it regardless of my access, or lack thereof, to the internet.

    Until all the media companies realize that they can no longer limit access to my television/DVR in order for me to consume my content and change their model to service me directly they are going to continue to follow the same route as the 8-track player, LP record player, and casette tapes.

  2. Duh…. Syndication. And Clicker spent time on this? Less access of show content means higher syndication prices on TV/Cable. Look at MAS*H. That show is 40 years in existence, and it’s not available online because it still makes syndication deals. That show signed recent deals with Hallmark, TVLand, and ION. Networks have to think ahead, and they’re being smart not to exhaust their shows with lower priced Hulu deals.