Online availability of TV Shows drives growth in Episodes Watched / Viewing Time.

As TV networks struggle to find right balance between digital and traditional access to their content, new research from Knowledge Networks shows that online access wins favor with consumers in ways often overlooked by standard metrics.

The study, TV’s Web Connections 2012, is conducted annually to track the interplay between on-set and online interaction with TV network content. Topics covered include the use of TV-related (network and program) websites, differences between “streamers” and “downloaders” of TV network content, favorability toward advertisers and sponsors of online TV content, and interaction with that content via social media and smartphone apps.

“The gains from making TV content available online are significant and growing, but they may pass under the radar of traditional metrics,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President (Client Service) at Knowledge Networks and director of The Home Technology Monitor. “Few advertisers would pass up the chance to be seen more favorably by consumers; yet that benefit may be missed if we are focused solely on metrics such as audience size. To truly understand the ROI of online content, we need subtle, more expansive measures that reach across digital platforms.”

Results from the latest wave of the study – conducted in November 2011 among 1,505 Internet users on KnowledgePanel® — indicate that, among streamers and downloaders of TV network video,

42% say the availability of this video makes them think more highly of a TV network – up from 30% in 2008

22% report they would never have watched some shows if they were not accessible online, compared to 10% in 2008

20% say they spent more time watching a network’s content after it became available online, up from 9% in 2008

The new study also shows that, among streamers, TV network sites are the preferred source of network content, cited by 57% of those who watch streaming network video; this compares to 37% who cited non-network sites (such as Hulu) as their preferred source. Downloaders are more likely than streamers (30% versus 20%) to say that they spend more time watching TV network content after it becomes available online.

Finally, according to the study, the availability of online TV network video – full episodes or clips – is the best website feature for increasing program involvement and sponsor consideration.

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