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Report: Online Shows Don't Cannibalize TV Viewers

23 Jul, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

People who watch television episodes streamed online are more likely to watch additional — not less — network TV programming, according to a new report.

The study, from an ongoing online poll of 50,000 conducted by Magid Media Labs for CBS Interactive, would appear to assuage concerns that increased availability of prime time TV programming online siphons away network viewers, hurts ratings and diminishes targeted demos for advertisers.

The report found that 35% of respondents were more inclined to watch incrementally more network coverage after connecting with a program online.

Nearly 50% of all CBS Interactive viewers polled were accretive to the network TV audience, while 46% said they mostly watched online. A majority of these same viewers said having the content available online was not a factor in their decision not to watch on TV, thus making their online viewing additive.

The median age of those streaming full episodes of CBS programming online was 38 years.

“Nearly half of CBS's online audience is composed of viewers who only or mostly watch online, which opens the door to a net gain of 21% of Web-only viewers, who are now more likely to watch TV because they connected with the show online,” said Jaime Spencer, director, Magid Media Labs.

In addition, 68% of respondents said that the online programming had the "right amount" of advertising. Overall, 50% correctly recalled the brand of an ad they saw during their viewing experience, and 18% of those who recalled an ad said that they were more influenced to make a purchase decision, and purchase intent was even higher (31%) for certain items like consumer package goods.

“This is a new world where people can watch anything, anywhere, anytime, and on any screen," said David Botkin, SVP, research & audience analytics, CBS Interactive. "These findings confirm what we've believed all along: Online viewing is complementary to broadcast viewing, so making our programming more accessible to people drives awareness, interest, and ratings both online and on-air.”

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