Internet Not Impacting TV Usage

Television viewing has not been adversely affected by Internet usage, with less than 2 percent of those with Internet access trading time spent watching TV solely for Internet usage, according to a survey by Burke Information Communications and Entertainment Research for MTV Networks and Turner Entertainment Networks.

The Burke study attempted to measure a direct and causal linkage between television viewership and Internet usage. When asked to compare their current television viewership usage with their typical monthly television viewership, 23 percent of respondents said they spent less time watching television in the past month, while the same level (22 percent) reported they are watching more television in the current month compared to a typical month. Fifty-five percent report watching the same amount of television compared to prior months.

Using the Burke entertainment industry and online database, compiled between December 1998 and August 1999, the survey asked if Internet usage was the primary reason why those respondents who reported lower TV viewership were watching less television. Only 1.5 percent of the more than 17,000 randomly intercepted visitors from the nine television network sites surveyed said they were watching less television only because they were online more. This segment of the Internet population is known as the Web-enabled television audience (WETA).

According to the survey, more households today are multi-tasking, that is, becoming more active in a variety of areas. An additional 5.3 percent of the visitors mention that their television viewership levels have declined due to participating in a variety of activities that include spending more time with family and friends, engaging in athletics, working longer hours, and spending more time online. The survey also found that 14.7 percent of households are participating in activities other than going online in place of watching television.

Previous studies on the same subject have blamed Internet usage for the recent decline in television viewership.

“We wanted to survey Web site visitors to see how significantly Internet usage may be affecting television viewership. Based on these results, the impact has been overstated in previously released findings,” said Cary Nadel, VP of Burke, Inc. “Other companies have conducted similar studies attempting to determine the Internet’s impact on consumers and media usage. This research, for the first time, makes a direct link between a decrease in television viewing as a result of increased Internet usage, not merely an assumption that Internet use is affecting television usage.”

The Burke survey also explored the linkage of television networks and their Web sites, specifically, the attach rate of a television network and its site, the push-pull effect of transferring eyeballs between the two media formats of TV and the Web. Approximately, two-thirds of the WETA population (66 percent) have gone to a network’s Web site for more information about a program after watching the program. The flip side of this has people watching a television program based on information on that network’s Web site, an activity that 42 percent of respondents report.

One further highlight of the close relationship of a network’s television programming and its Web site is the proportion of individuals who are online at the network’s Web site at the same time they are watching a program on the network. The study found that 39 percent of respondents have watched TV while on the Web (referred to as collocated consumption), thereby underscoring the value that a network’s Web site can deliver to the on-air network.

Burke randomly intercepted more than 17,000 visitors to nine television programmer Web sites between December 1998 and August 1999. The site intercept research was conducted using Burke’s Nth Visitor Methodology™, which randomly selects every Nth visitor an re-routes them to participate in the survey.

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