Web Originals Are More Engaging Than TV: Report


A study commissioned by YouTube (s GOOG) 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 (s AAPL) TV, Boxee box, Roku player and Google (s GOOG) 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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William Maggos

The reason for the greater engagement with web programming vs broadcast/cable comes down to episodic vs streaming content. While we each have a few shows on TV that we watch every episode of, we also use the TV for background noise. For web content, more and more of us consume web video in the former method but few of us use it in the latter. Live streaming video is the next frontier in web content. As web video replaces broadcast and cable, the logic of repeated airing of recent content and syndication and movie channels goes away due to the on-demand and in-the-queue nature of web video. Similar to how it works on radio, there is a huge potential for anchors behind a desk basically mixing in either news or sports, depending on the live stream you choose. And perhaps music videos to fill time. This is the kind of web content that we will leave on in the background, when all our HDTV’s are connected to the net.

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