Friday, October 31, 2008

TV Watching and Internet Use Complement Each Other

"According to a new Nielsen report, the more Internet you use, the more TV you watch; 31 percent of in-home Internet activity takes place while the user watches TV. (emailed release)" I look forward to learning more about this report. I never expected to hear that this was a zero sum game; rather, it paves the way for more interactivity on the TV set. Today, I am able to size a TV screen on one portion of my monitor as I surf through the web or work on an excel spreadsheet, the sound of CNBC announcers on my speakers. When I need to answer the phone or watch a video, I simply mute the TV sound. I was raised to multitask and expect that the younger generation is even more adept at it. In fact, I am only surprised that the research doesn't indicate an even higher percentage of simultaneous usage.

Obama Ad Seen By 33.5 Million Viewers

I am not using this blog to endorse a candidate. What I find remarkable is that the Obama infomercial, airing on numerous broadcast and cable networks, delivered ratings that surpassed the normal fare on each network individually. It beat the ratings for Old Christine on CBS, it beat the ratings for Knight Rider on NBC, it beat the ratings on ABC who actually ran their show, Pushing Daisies opposite the Obama program. And on cable, it beat ratings for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Wow!

There is an incredible thirst to see and hear these candidates before Tuesday's election. That the interest level drove people to watch TV, regardless of the channel, tells me that interesting programming draws viewership. Does it also say that the current programming on TV today is so unappetizing that people have turned away from TV. Perhaps. I may be a big fan of SNL but how many times can NBC keep running the show on prime time. It may be topical but it may also be overkill. Or perhaps NBC has nothing else to present. "During a season where television hits are hard to find, one NBC executive suggested jokingly Wednesday that Mr. Obama might be invited back to fill the 8 p.m. Wednesday time slot on a regular basis." The writers strike may have done more damage to broadcast TV schedules than we could possibly imagine.

Back to the Obama infomercial, its rating success only lacked local commercial insertion to make it even more profitable. While the programming was duplicative, it is interesting to see where people chose to view the show. It was exactly the same show regardless of where it was watched. It speaks to brand preference and would be fascinating to learn why viewers picked the channel they did to view this show. For me, I picked Fox; Game 5 of the World Series would follow and I didn't want to miss a pitch of this Fall Classic.