Thursday, April 8, 2010

TV Finds Unlikely Source to Credit for Viewer Boost

The Internet has been warily eyed by television networks as a potential rival, but the latest numbers for viewership of live events seems to tell a different tale: the internet is actually working in the networks’ favor.

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Super Bowl and even the Grammys saw huge upticks in their viewership this year, particularly the Super Bowl, which was the most watched program in the entire history of television in the United States. Networks are crediting this surge in television watching to, yes, the Internet, and particularly social media.

With so many people on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and other chat engines, viewers can talk with their friends about events in real time, even if those friends are on the other side of the globe. The Internet may also be fueling interest as a simple promotional tool; when the entire Internet is abuzz with the upcoming game, it’s more likely that viewers and online media buyers are going to be excited to tune in.

Networks are even finding that viewers tune in to see events that they already know the outcome of. If someone hears about a stunning win by an athlete in the Olympic Games, they’re not willing to limit their experience to one 140-character tweet. They want to see it for themselves.

And that’s shaping up to be a good combination for the networks.