Web Sites Create Loyal TV Viewers

While the major broadcast networks have not done well in terms of getting Internet-enabled viewers to access their programs’ Web sites, cable plays The Food Network and ESPN have taken the cake at driving Internet traffic, according to a study by Burke, Inc. and NFO Interactive.

The study “Connecting With Viewers: TV Programs and Their Web Sites,” found that network Web sites can play a key role in creating loyal program viewers. To discover more about the relationship between the Web and television, 8,605 adult NFO Interactive panelists were surveyed via the Internet from Oct. 9 to Oct. 25. Panelists were first asked which of 315 programs on 27 broadcast and cable TV programs they had watched in the previous three months. Viewers of programs were then asked if they had gone to the network Web site for program information during or after their viewing. Viewers of each network were also asked if they had ever decided to watch a program as a result of visiting that network’s Web site.

A total of 2,682 individuals, or 31 percent of those surveyed, indicated that they had watched at least one of 14 listed Food Network programs in the three months prior to the survey. Of these, 876 (33 percent) had also been to the Web site devoted to at least one of the programs viewed. “Emeril Live” by itself attracted 714 of these viewers to the Web, although several less heavily watched Food Network programs also managed to inspire at least one-quarter of their viewers to journey to the program Web sites.

Five ESPN programs, including NFL football and Major League Baseball coverage, were included on the survey. A total of 3,970 individuals, or 46 percent of those surveyed, indicated that they had watched one of the listed programs. Of these, 30 percent indicated they had been to ESPN’s sports-oriented site.

“These networks have clearly done an excellent job of turning their identities into brands and moving those brands on to the World Wide Web,” said Cary Nadel, a Burke VP. “Television networks that offer wider varieties of programming have a tougher challenge turning their Web sites into resources that viewers will use on a regular basis.”

The major broadcast networks were definitely the most viewed by the respondents. More than 90 percent had seen at least one listed program on NBC, ABC, and CBS, and 84 percent has seen at least one of the Fox programs listed. Of these four networks, CBS did slightly better than the others in getting Web-enabled viewers to its program Web sites. Twenty-eight percent of surveyed CBS viewers indicated that they had been to the Web site of at least one CBS program they had seen, compared to 27 percent for ABC, 26 percent for NBC, and 21 percent for Fox.

CBS’s leading shows for Web traffic during the survey include “Survivor” and “Big Brother.” ABC’s numbers were led by “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” NBC most viewed Web site was for the Olympics. For Fox, the top site was for NFL football.

Networks with Highest Percentage of Web Site Visitors
Among Net-Enabled Viewers of Their Programs
Network Viewers
Web Site
Food Network 2,682 876 33%
ESPN 3,970 1,179 30%
CBS 7,920 2,218 28%
ABC 7,979 2,118 27%
NBC 8,127 2,094 26%
Fox 7,208 1,503 21%
MTV 2,759 551 20%
HBO 2,913 517 18%
Nickelodeon 2,297 400 17%
Discovery 4,595 793 17%
Source: Burke/NFO Interactive

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