Twenty Percent of U.S. Primetime TV is Watched Online

Even for a pseudo-internet nerd like me, I’m amazed to see a survey that puts Americans’ online television viewing habits as high as 20%. Just think where it will be in a year or two. It won’t be long before we reach 100% hybrid tv/internet viewing ubiquity. And likely sooner than any of us think.

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.

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