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Two Reports Differ on Web's Impact on TV

Strikewatch_blog Two reports today on new-media video offer slightly different perspectives on how it is affecting traditional television. Back Stage parent The Nielsen Company states that three-screen viewing (TV, computer monitor, cell phone) is on the rise, but that television users are watching more TV than ever.

According to Nielsen, the average user watched 127 hours 15 minutes of TV in May ’08, up from 121 hours 48 minutes in the same period last year. (Time out: A hundred and twenty-seven hours a month? People, please: Put down the remote, step away from the Ho-Ho’s, go outside, and walk to the library.) As for other screen use, about 26 1/2 hours are spent on the Internet, and of that time, nearly 2 1/2 are spent watching video. Video watching on mobile devices accounts for slightly more time: 3 hours 15 minutes.

Meantime,Integrated Media Measurement Inc. has a different picture: Online video in younger demographics is taking viewers away from television. “New research suggests that up to 20 percent of TV viewing occurs online, and that in some cases, those viewing levels are higher than levels via DVR playback,” Wayne Friedman reports on MediaDailyNews.com. Also: Fifty percent of the time, viewers see online video as “TV replacement.”

Both studies point to younger viewers driving an increase in online video. Nielsen reports that viewers 18-24 and 25-34 watch well over three hours a month, while watching less TV than the national average. According to IMMI, nearly 30 percent of those who watch online video are in the 25-34 age range. These are the demographics, by the way, that advertisers love the most.

Both studies would seem to indicate the same unsurprising conclusions: 1) Young people’s viewing habits will profoundly change the future of television; 2) In protecting actors’ residuals, SAG is right when it says that the screen ultimately won’t matter. Then there is the possible proliferation of devices such as Xbox, Unbox, and AppleTV, which can take content from the Internet and transmit them to your TV. Makes you wonder if the whole residual compensation system won’t have to be blown up in the next negotiation. Also makes you wonder if the next negotiation will make the present-day impasse look like a rerun of Gilligan's Island.

--Andrew Salomon

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