Web Originals Are More Engaging Than TV: Report

couch potato

A study commissioned by YouTube and Next New Networks suggests that a majority of viewers find original web videos to be as entertaining as broadcast TV. Perhaps more importantly, viewers are typically more engaged when watching original web videos than their counterparts watching live TV.

The survey, which was conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates from May 18 through June 4, 2010, sought to compare the interest and behavior of viewers watching web video. And what it found is a bit surprising: According to the survey, 60 percent of respondents watched original web content weekly, and more than half of people surveyed (54%) said that web originals were as entertaining, if not more entertaining, than what’s on TV. Part of the reason for interest in web video is the convenience; 58 percent of those surveyed said that they see original web video as providing quality entertainment whenever they want it, which they can view on demand instead of having to wait for their favorite programming on TV.

Web video viewers also typically sell into the coveted 18-34 year old demographic. According to the survey results, 73 percent of YouTube viewers surveyed were in that age range, and 90 percent of Next New viewers fell into that demographic. That’s notable, particularly as the average age of TV viewers has slipped above 50 years old.

More importantly, however, viewers watching original web content tend to be more engaged than those watching linear TV. While the typical TV viewer multitasks — that is, watches TV while surfing the web or performing tasks around the house — web viewers tend to be more dialed in to whatever they’re watching. About 60 percent of TV viewers said they simultaneously surfed the web, compared to 37 percent of those watching original web programming. Viewers of web programming are also less likely than TV viewers to talk to others (28% as opposed to 52% for TV viewers) or do things around the house (19% vs. 52%) while a piece of content is on.

Of course, all of this is partly due to the logistics of web video viewing, which usually requires someone to be watching shows on his or her PC. Due to the dedicated browser window required to watch that content and the smaller screen, they’re less likely to switch between programs or get up and walk around the house while a web video is on. This could change, particularly as more web video finds its way to the TV through connected devices and platforms such as the Apple TV, Boxee box, Roku player and Google TV.

Even so, the results are impressive, and could help distributors of web content such as Next New Networks attempt to steal ad dollars away from traditional TV programming.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Keirsten Balukas.

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