RESEARCH: Online availability drives viewing growth

As TV networks struggle to find the right balance between digital and traditional access to their content, research from Knowledge Networks, a GfK company, shows that online access wins favour with consumers in ways often overlooked by standard metrics.

The study – TV’s Web Connections 2012 – is conducted annually to track the interplay between on-set and online interaction with TV network content.  Topics covered include the use of TV-related (network and programme) websites, differences between ‘streamers’ and ‘downloaders’ of TV network content, favourability toward advertisers and sponsors of online TV content, and interaction with that content via social media and smartphone apps.

“The gains from making TV content available online are significant and growing, but they may pass under the radar of traditional metrics,” noted David Tice, Senior Vice President (Client Service) at Knowledge Networks and director of The Home Technology Monitor. “Few advertisers would pass up the chance to be seen more favourably by consumers; yet that benefit may be missed if we are focused solely on metrics such as audience size.  To truly understand the ROI of online content, we need subtle, more expansive measures that reach across digital platforms,” he suggested

Results from the latest wave of the study – conducted in November 2011 among 1,505 Internet users on KnowledgePanel – indicate that, among streamers and downloaders of TV network video:

  • 42 per cent say the availability of this video makes them think more highly of a TV network – up from 30 per cent in 2008
  • 22 per cent report they would never have watched some shows if they were not accessible online, compared to 10 per cent in 2008
  • 20 per cent say they spent more time watching a network’s content after it became available online, up from 9 per cent in 2008

The study also shows that, among streamers, TV network sites are the preferred source of network content, cited by 57 per cent of those who watch streaming network video; this compares to 37 per cent who cited non-network sites (such as Hulu) as their preferred source.  Downloaders are more likely than streamers (30 per cent versus 20 per cent) to say that they spend more time watching TV network content after it becomes available online.

Finally, according to the study, the availability of online TV network video – full episodes or clips – is the best website feature for increasing programme involvement and sponsor consideration.

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