July 20, 2007
Nielsen Finds Web Video Viewing Up, Not Interfering with TV Viewing

According to a recent study from Nielsen, the number of folks watching online video continues to rise, while a third of those respondents said that watching Web video actually increases the amount of traditional television they watch. Only 13 percent of those surveyed said that watching video online has decreased their watching television.

The study found that 81 million broadband customers reported watching online video, up 16 percent from September 2006 to March 2007. The 16 percent hike has been getting some attention.

See more here.

What might cause a rise in those viewing online video to not necessarily trim viewership away from traditional television? One question is what they're watching online. People engage in user-generated, short-form content, or even clipped and quoted content from professionally produced material, in different ways and for much different reasons than they watch TV.

More than that, though, when thinking about professionally produced online video content, it shouldn't come as a major shock that making that video available online might help create more television viewing for many. Cross-platform distribution provides further ways of time-shifting. As opposed to the DVR or the VCR, this type of time-shifting is even less reliant on the linear trajectory of the television lineup, because one can remember to go to a Web site to watch a video days after it initially aired on TV, whereas you can only watch something on DVR if you remembered to program it to record the program beforehand.

VOD and online video provide the chance for people to hear about a program through word-of-mouth and THEN go back and revisit it. Further, they increasingly allow people the chance to make up for shows they miss.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about CBS' decision to stream three of its four soap operas online. As a soaps fan myself, I know that there have been times my digital recorder froze and I missed the show, so it's great to have that option available. What's worse, soaps endure what almost no other serialize program must on a regular basis, and that is interruptions from both local and national news. At times, these are due to events of true consequence; other times, it will be quite the opposite, and most soaps fans have their story of frustration when the local news busted in for a car chase or something similar during a heightened moment of drama. Usually, the local station will then refuse to rebroadcast the show because, after all, 35 of the 40 minutes aired...

In this case, it's easy to see how cross-platform distribution of content might help increase the connection with particular television series, through the ability to catch up, watch an episode missed, or rewatch episodes airing in the traditional television lineup as well.