Online video becoming the new DVR

Is online video replacing the DVR?

MarketingVOX reported on Nielsen’s recent study of online visitors to network TV’s online sites here.   Their report revealed that the majority of people on these sites were watching their favorite shows online:

  • to catch up on missed airing of specific epsiodes (54%)
  • catch up on missed episodes of the current season (47%)
  • catch up on the past season before a new season airs (33%)
  • or they forgot to set their DVR or Tivo to record the episode (32%)

As predicted in my Nov 24 post here:

Hulu’s massive traffic bump courtesy of ABC’s refreshed inventory of their fall line-up proves without a doubt that online is the second screen for people who love their TV shows.  As long as online content remains free, DVR usage will erode. 

The funny thing is, people go online to watch something they already know about; they’re catching up on missed episodes of their favorite TV shows.

And when people go online to catch their shows, they do it with purpose.  When an internet session involves viewing TV shows, the viewing of those shows tends to dominate the session. Overall, 73% of a respondent’s internet session that involves TV viewing consisted of TV viewing; that means that the other 27% of the time, they did something else on the site besides watching videos.

Moreover, they are catching up on shows alone.  A combined 84% of respondents never or rarely watch TV online with one or more other people.

TV ads do better in TV shows that are watched online.

Nielsen found that repurposed TV ads in the online sessions had better general recall, brand recall and message recall than original video ads or flash ads (at least for this food & beverage company).  Nielsen felt that this is a good reminder to brand advertisers that the context of ad placement is just as important as the content of the ad.   Well, of course it is.

This makes a lot more sense when you understand who it is that’s going online to watch these shows.  These are dedicated TV viewers using online as a back-up system.  DVRs were invented for that purpose but now going online is just easier.   Therefore, these people are probably way more familiar with the TV ads that were repurposed (versus a first time exposure to an original video ad or flash ad).  But run the same survey on a site dedicated to original online video content and the results would be very different.

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketing is all about understanding your customer (e.g. knowing that they like to watch certain TV shows); equally important is to understand the people who visit the sites you advertise on.  In this case, the content of the show is what pulls people to the site.  If you know that your product appeals to those shows’ viewers, than your ad would do well on TV during that show, cable on-demand during that show, online during that show – and next up – on mobile phones / iPods / iPads during that show.  In other words, it’s the content that pulls in the audience and the audience is becoming platform agnostic.  What’s more important is to find what your customers like (e.g. watch episodes of  TV shows) and reach them when they are doing that.

Convergence of TV and online video viewing.

MarketingVOX also noted that 86% of respondents to a recent Deloitte survey prefered watching TV on their television sets live, as opposed to watching a recording on their DVR or using their on-demand feature.  However, 65% of respondents would like to be able to easily connect their home TV to the internet so that they can view videos or downloaded content.

The convergence race is on.  Already you can watch TV shows online and watch online videos on your TV.  It gets complicated because the internet has disrupted the content producers and distributors business models (meaning they’re losing money because of it); and advertisers are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the dust to settle.  My primer on The Complicated World of Online Video – part 1 is here.

I just love this business!  How about you?

About the Survey:  Nielsen collected online panel data of US visitors to online TV sites (,,,, or from January 4-February 4, 2010.

2 thoughts on “Online video becoming the new DVR”

  1. Its really a great and useful piece of information. I¡¦m glad that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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