Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Americans Can’t Find a Screen They Won’t Watch: TV, Web Video Both Up

elvis-costelloOne big reason why very few ad dollars have yet to make their way from television to the Web, even though online video is booming: TV viewing isn’t shrinking. Yet.

So says Nielsen, via its newest “Three Screen Report.” The tracking service says more Americans are watching TV than ever before–up 1.2 percent in the last quarter–and they’re spending more time watching TV, too–that’s up 1.9 percent, to a staggering 153-plus hours per month. Of course, the same holds true for Web video, which is growing much faster.

Here’s how the data break down. Total number of viewers (click to enlarge):
tv-viewers

Time spent viewing (click to enlarge):
tv-time

Don’t be fooled: As much as the blogosphere likes to describe the TV guys as clueless dummies, they’re well aware that they’re now competing with the likes of Hulu and Google’s (GOOG) YouTube for their viewers’ time. That’s why Hulu, the JV between GE’s (GE) NBC, News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox, and now, Disney’s (DIS) ABC, remains such a controversial site within the industry–one camp thinks it’s the best way for the networks to position themselves against the eventual move to the Web, and the other thinks they’re hastening their own demise by training viewers to expect free, on-demand access via the Web.

We may get a slightly better sense of what advertisers think about this soon. It’s “upfront” week in New York, which means that all the broadcast networks–CBS (CBS), NBC, Fox and ABC have begun selling their wares to advertisers for next year. Prognosticators are betting that upfront sales could be down by 15 percent or so this year, but they’re assuming that most of that decrease has to do with the miserable economy, not a full-blown move–or “secular shift,” as the smart guys like to say–away from TV and to the Web. If that decrease gets much bigger though, it could mean something else is afoot.

Enough with the serious! Here’s the excellent celebrity singalong from the finale of “30 Rock,” which aired last week. NBC only allows Hulu to keep episodes of the show on the site for a limited time (expect to see more of this restriction, not less), so this may only work for a few weeks. Enjoy:


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work