Web sites make it easy to catch missed TV shows

While the writers’ strike might have diminished the number of new programs, major networks are continuing the online migration of those shows.

In addition to streaming free full-length episodes on their own Web sites, episodes from ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC are showing up on an assortment of sites, from major Web destinations such as AOL to newcomers Veoh and MeeVee.

The number of broadband users who watched full shows online weekly doubled in 2007 from 8 percent to 16 percent, said market research firm Horowitz Associates. Embracing the Web is “an acknowledgement that this is real [and networks] have a business model and can monetize it and make it part of their growth,“ Howard Horowitz told “USA Today.”

By giving consumers online access, networks have learned they can reinforce viewer devotion. “This is mostly driven by TV audiences who missed [an episode] and want to watch it on their computer,” Shelly Palmer, author of "Television Disrupted: The Transition From Network to Networked TV,” told the newspaper. “I don't think NBC or ABC is caring where you watch as long as they can count on you.”

Traffic on Veoh.com, which recently closed a deal to add MTV to an array of CBS, FOX and NBC series, rose 24 percent during the last three months of 2007; 40 percent comes during traditional TV prime-time hours, said Veoh’s Dmitry Shapiro. “That is a very telling and important statistic. It’s the same content they can find on TV, but they feel they have more control.”

Any traffic caused by strike-dissatisfied viewers accelerates the long-term move to online, said Alex Patriquin of Compete, the Web analysis firm.