We all know that Web video is increasing at a mammoth rate month on month. But new research suggests that not only is the Internet being used as an extension to the TV, it could be replacing it at quite a rate.
Computers and the Web are becoming an increasingly important part of how television shows are being distributed. Whether it be via legal methods such as Hulu and Joost, or illegal peer-to-peer sharing of torrents, the trend is on the rise.
Online Video Up
We’ve already seen online video viewing as a whole grow massively over the first half of 2008, with comScore data for May showing 12 billion videos were watched in the US alone.
This figure obviously includes all forms of videos, with YouTube being the highest percentage of views. But even in the niche of episodic content, especially prime time shows such as Lost and Heroes, the figures are stacking up.
Prime Content On The Web
According to new research by Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI), as much as 20% of prime episodic content is now watched via the Web, and this is instead of, rather than as well as, being watched on traditional television.
Television networks keen to keep their advertisers interested will insist that online viewing of shows is only really in addition to television watching, with people only watching repeats or certain episodes they have missed.
Instead Not In Addition
The latest consumer research says otherwise though, with IMMI claiming 50% of online viewers seeing the Web as a direct replacement to watching television.
The other 50% is made of 31.3% who use streaming episodes as catch-up, with the other 18.7% streaming episodes to fill in full or part episodes they missed on TV, or re-watch something they’ve already seen.
IMMI also looked at the demographics of people who choose to watch online. The age group most likely to use the Web for TV viewing is 25-44. They are also likely to be female, caucasian, college-educated, and earning between $40K and $80K a year.
While this data is in no way categorical, it does at least signify a move towards people viewing the Web as an increasingly viable option for watching television shows on, often at the expense of sitting in front of the goggle box.
Heads In The Sand
TV networks can now choose to either stick their heads in the sand and do nothing, or embrace the technology by making their shows accessible on the Web. As usual, the sticking problem is how to make money by doing this.
The only real options are from advertising or charging for content, neither of which are particularly popular with viewers. Until a solution is found, BitTorrent trackers will continue to rule the roost.
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