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Traditional audience metrics fall short of identifying impact of online view, says study

Online access to television programming wins favor with consumers in ways often overlooked by traditional research, according to a new study from Knowledge Networks, a GfK company.

The study, "TV's Web Connections 2012," is conducted annually to track the interplay between on-set and online interaction with TV network content.

"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 VP 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," said Tice.

Results from the latest study, conducted in November 2011 among 1505 Internet users on KnowledgePanel, indicate that, among streamers and downloaders of TV network video:

  • 42 percent say the availability of this video makes them think more highly of a TV network -- up from 30 percent in 2008;
  • 22 percent say they would never have watched some shows if they were not accessible online, compared to 10 percent in 2008;
  • 20 percent say they spent more time watching a network's content after it became available online, up from 9 percent in 2008.

The new study also shows that, among streamers, TV network sites are the preferred source of network content, cited by 57 percent of those who watch streaming network video; compared to 37 percent who cited nonnetwork sites, such as Hulu, as their preferred source. Downloaders are more likely than streamers (30 percent versus 20 percent) to say 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.