Twenty Percent of Primetime TV is Watched Online - HotHardware
Twenty Percent of Primetime TV is Watched Online

Twenty Percent of Primetime TV is Watched Online

Pundits argue that the computer is quickly on its way to becoming the primary source of delivering audio-visual entertainment. Others will argue that it's already happened. With over 12 billion videos watched online in the U.S. during the month of May, its hard to argue against the ubiquity of the PC as the king of media. To further this claim, market research company, Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI), has released a study that claims that almost 20 percent of primetime "episodic" television shows are watched online.

This number is an average representing IMMI's measurement of "3,000 teens and adults'" viewing habits of "fourteen primetime shows on two major networks during the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008." We feel that this dataset of only 14 primetime shows and two networks is actually too small to accurately generate an overall sense of people's viewing habits. As the report itself states, online viewing depends on "the genre of the content and the amount of time the show has been on the air." In other words, not all TV shows are created equal. In fact, as we reported last month, the season finale of Lost had almost as many people downloading the episode via BitTorrent as watched it live during the original broadcast. We advise to take the data generated from this report with a grain of salt; but the trends it hints at are nevertheless illuminating...

 
 Credit: IMMI
IMMI claims that of those individuals who watch "primetime network" television online, half of them are doing so instead of watching the shows on television. About one third of online viewers watch online to catch up on missed episodes or missed parts of shows. The remaining 20 percent are filling in their viewing with additional shows available online.

Contrary to what you might think, the largest age group watching "online episodic content" is not teenagers. In fact, 13 to 17-year olds represented the smallest size of the study's age groups. The age group most often watching primetime TV shows online is 25 to 44-year olds. And it even turns out that the 25 to 44-year olds are more likely to watch online than watch the shows on TV. Based on other metrics collected in the report, the demographic profile of the type of person most likely to watch "primetime shows online" is a 25 to 34-year old, caucasian, woman, making between $40K and $80K, with a college degree. Interestingly, the study also found that "those who view episodes online watch less television in general," and are "less likely to use a DVR."


Credit: IMMI

IMMI collects data by essentially "listening in" on the subjects, with their permission. Subjects are given special cell phones that record ambient audio:

"The IMMI phone randomly samples 10 seconds of room audio every 30 seconds. These samples are converted to digital signatures, which are uploaded continuously to the IMMI servers.

 
 Credit: IMMI
IMMI also tracks all local media outlets actively broadcasting in any given designated media area (DMA). To identify media, IMMI compares the uploaded audio signatures computed by the phones with audio signatures computed on the IMMI servers monitoring TV and radio broadcasts. IMMI also maintains client-provided content files, such as commercials, promos, movies, and songs.

By matching the signatures, IMMI couples media broadcasts with the individuals who are exposed to them. The process takes just a few seconds."

The idea of having ambient audio recorded every 30 seconds might give some concern over privacy. IMMI claims that what people say is never tracked. Those conversations, however, are saved on IMMI's servers along with the rest of the audio samples collected. Collecting data in this fashion has its advantages: as long as the subject brings the charged and powered-on cell phone with them wherever they go, data can be collected at out-of-home locations as well.

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Ha i'm one of those, i watch all my episode on nbc.com, fox.com
Jesus I even got a MLB pass and NFL pass :) everything online.

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Same here, I use just about anything I can to watch everything online. I was a big TIVO fan but I mean I simply can't afford it anymore. I started using Hulu and Internet TV and I see no sign of stopping now that cbs started innertube. The only thing I wish is if fox had something like CBS innertube or ABC's HD streaming. Hulu has some fox shows so I'm fine for now, but Fox could really take note of this.

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Oh man, I was so happy when they put Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Hulu yesterday! Personally, I haven't watched normal TV in over a month, and I have FiOS.

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What I am curious to see is if they take this information and use it to drive the future of their industry or do they go the way of the RIAA/MPAA and start a costly and useless war to try and stop it. I hope they roll with the punches and use this to develop better content, delivered in a way their customers want and not try to fight an un-winnable war to hold onto an aging and dying business model. Time will tell.

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It's amazing to me that people don't care enough about quality and watch so much stuff on the internet. I'd much rather watch Heroes in HD on my 65" HDTV than on my 20" LCD in a small box or even fullscreen.

Admittedly, if I miss something and didn't DVR it, then I'll go online and watch it. I'm actually very grateful that networks provide episodes online, but it's definitely not my preference to watch it online.

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shanewu:
It's amazing to me that people don't care enough about quality and watch so much stuff on the internet. I'd much rather watch Heroes in HD on my 65" HDTV than on my 20" LCD in a small box or even fullscreen.

Admittedly, if I miss something and didn't DVR it, then I'll go online and watch it. I'm actually very grateful that networks provide episodes online, but it's definitely not my preference to watch it online.

 

Good point Shane. These two facts, yours and the one in the study, should give TV companies plenty of food for thought as they look to the future and ponder their content and how it's delivered. Finding new ways to merge the two and make one compliment the other should be their guide going forward.

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Having the ability to fast-forward "time-saver".
Having the ability to cut out commercials "time-saver".
Having the ability to watch HD content with fast-forward and no commercials "priceless".
They can take their advertising supported broadcasting models and shove it.
I don't "pay" for commercials, I pay for content. I never understood why people ever allowed advertisements on "paid for" media.
They will probably move to tattooing ads on babies bottoms next.

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The World Canadian Bureau, the WGA, wants the internet money, friend!

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shanewu:
/q It's amazing to me that people don't care enough about quality and watch so much stuff on the internet. I'd much rather watch Heroes in HD on my 65" HDTV than on my 20" LCD in a small box or even fullscreen.

Admittedly, if I miss something and didn't DVR it, then I'll go online and watch it. I'm actually very grateful that networks provide episodes online, but it's definitely not my preference to watch it online. /q

Dude please you sound kind like those people that take i-max rather than a regular theater. if you are happy with a 20" monitor then you are happy know if you want your 65" and invite the neighboors that is your choice. I personally got my 42" samsung tv hook up to my laptop and it works perfects other people may have a projector which i also do when i'm having a get together in my house and everyone wants to watch a movie. the factor is if you got a blueray/hd receiver ur quality won't be affected...

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I just joined the craze that is internet tv and continue to be fascinated with the idea of premium quality programming being streamed from the internet with limited or no commercial interruptions. I am not very sophisticated when it comes to computers hardware and software and was wondering if yall could answer some questions for me:

1) what are the best websites for getting tv programming on the internet(apart from downloading from bittorrent?) I currently use Hulu, Free Tube, and Itunes (for video podcasts of the daily news etc) to access free programing, are there other sites you can recommend?

2) The aforementioned article does not address the connectivity of computers to televisions. Only a few comments address this point to which i have a question. Ideally, I would like to be able to surf the internet and access streaming videos from my tv using a browser. Is there anyway that can be done apart from hot wiring my computer to my tv? Further, what and how do i hotwire my computer to my tv without losing digital quality? My laptop's screen is 14.1 inches and i would prefer to watch streaming videos/downloaded content on my television--i did some research and found digital media network devices made my wireless router companies that can be integrated into windows media center edition so that you can access you media files from the tv... but does this allow you surf the web to access streaming content?

thanks for the help and please excuse my tech incompetence,
Suneet

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ken10 - I'm not your friend, guy!

kid007 - My comments stem partly from a concern that the more we settle for lower quality media, the more we will get lower quality media. I'm afraid that media providers will latch on to this trend and think they can just provide lower quality media to us to save money. Many people won't even realize (which isn't the same as not caring) what they are missing. Considering how many people still go to movies regularly, you can't tell me that people don't want a high quality experience.

I agree, though, that if someone is happy watching episodes online on a computer monitor, then that's great for him/her. Sure, some people might not care about what they are missing (HD, surround sound), but there are plenty who do (or would if they knew better). Keep in mind that another alternative is the on demand services that cable providers offer, and I think those offerings will only continue to increase to compete with the Internet. Mark Cuban actually spoke on this quite a bit on AOTS on G4TV yesterday...it was interesting.

Ultimately, I just wanted to help keep the conversation going and to see if anyone agreed with my sentiments on the topic. :)

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I agree Shane. Your points are what I had in mind when I said the content providers should use this information when planning content and how it is delivered. I have yet to find high quality sreaming anything, but that doesn't mean it will stay that way. Hopefully this will drive both the content providers and the ISP's (through pressure from customers and content providers) to increase quality. The possibilities for the Online and TV based content working together are vast. Lets see if they embrace it or drop the ball.

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Like honestly, i've tried watching shows online before (shows that i don't get, like on showtime for instance), and the quality of the video is just so freaking horrible that i can't even watch. Its literally unwatchable. i guess i've just been spoiled by so much readily accessible HD-content on my computer and my TV...

 

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