Posted January 10, 2008 10:48 am by with 16 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

There’s just something not quite right about the suggestion that online video watching is growing rapidly because of the US writers’ strike. The BBC has data from Nielsen Online and Pew Internet Project which points to an unusual jump in online video viewing in the past two months.

The on-going writers’ strike has meant that many popular programs are currently off-air in the US and, according to Nielsen Online, this has seen Americans turn in large numbers to online alternatives.

Its figures show that YouTube’s audience was up 18% in the two months after the strike started, and newer video-sharing sites such as Crackle have also experienced unprecedented growth.

I just don’t get it. The writers’ strike means that we’ve lost a lot of quality TV shows, so why would we fill the void with the kind of junk that gets posted to the web? Don’t get me wrong, I love watching online video content, but not as a replacement to quality TV programming.

There are plenty of other reasons why web watching has increased–maybe it’s all of the presidential election coverage that’s online. Until I see numbers that show a direct correlation between increased online video viewing during prime time hours–7 pm to 10 pm–I’ll be unconvinced of the connection.

What do you think?

  • Andy,

    I understand what you’re saying, it does seem pretty ‘perfect’ timing, although I’ve got to say that I even find myself going online more now that there’s not so much new programming (or just new versions of my old favorites) on TV.
    Our household is now this: we’ve set TiVo to grab rewinds of our favorite shows, on whatever channel it finds them on, and we will watch that on the weekends. During the week I find that I’m spending more time at work and more time online.
    One other thing: in my industry (web development & interactive media) we saw this coming a while back and now I’m on the edge of my seat watching it all happen.
    I will say that I don’t think it’s necessarily the best idea in the world to strike right now when the whole profit from the web conversation is still undefined. We don’t know how much online media sales can make (over the long-term w/ specific advertising to do so). This is a new, growing economy, and we need to get out there before we can write contracts on revenues around it.



  • @Rebekah – thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one Andy. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at the stats to say which sites specifically have seen a boost, but I’m going on the assumption that Veoh was one of them. Veoh hosts some pirated films (linked to from other sites), and has some quality TV shows (the entire season of Freaks and Geeks). I’d imagine that each of the Big 3 were included in the study as well. In the absence of new original content, I could very easily see regular TV viewers going to the computer to catch up on episodes they missed, rewatch their favorites, and watch shows that they haven’t seen due to programming schedules.

    I think there’s a lot more substance to this, but I do like your point about 7pm-10pm. I’d really like to see those stats broken down by the time of day as well.


  • @JakeB – but is the rise directly linked to the strike? It could just be that Veoh, Joost, Hulu are just getting popular.

  • Thanks for bringing this question up… more background at Wikipedia:

  • @John – thanks for the latin lesson! Seems to be the case here. 😉

  • Jordan McCollum

    Andy, sounds like you’ve hit the nail on the head. Honestly, I wouldn’t buy it even if the peak usage was between 7 and 10 pm unless we surveyed a statistically significant sample of video watchers who said that they were watching online video because there was nothing new on TV (which I still wouldn’t believe, since I know that there are still new episodes of TV shows airing 😉 ).

  • I would say that YouTube is still rapidly growing and the strike would have a small if any effect on the video views like what John pointed out. Just because there is no longer new shows on doesn’t mean people are going through withdrawl and absolutely have to watch TV. I bet a lot of people are doing a variety of other things.

  • Sure, I understand this way of thinking: people are not able to watch a quality show they have been used to, so they turn to the Web for “assistance” but, personally, I highly doubt that this is the case here. TV is one thing, the kind of stuff that ends up being published online is another.

    Alan Johnson

  • ai3di

    You know. Ppl work for Taco Bell. Taco Bell sells their product at the grocery store. Maybe all the Taco Bell employees should go on strike until they get a fair share of the stuff sold at the store. Or maybe as a movie projectionist, they should get a cut for each movie sold at the store, or rented. Does Tivo give money to writer’s? Why not? I can record the show on my Tivo and watch it anytime, Tivo charges me money, So the writer’s should get some of that money, right? Or if I use a VHS tape, Should VHS pay money to the writer’s for letting ppl tape the shows? You know some of the ideas from writer’s comes from books, I figure that those writer’s get some royalties for that fact, maybe they should get even more for the selling of the shows at the store too. I think that the writer’s should ask for so much that the tv stations have to charge the commercials more, then the products of those commercials can charge more, and the ppl who ship those products will have to charge more, and then the food that the writer’s eat will cost more, including the gas that they put in their cars, and then this can start all over again. Ppl in America as families make less then 1 writer does!!!
    Writer’s strike still on, I’m still entertained by everything else in the world. As far as i’m concerned they can take their time as i’m not missing anything by not having the shows on tv. Maybe after a few years I might miss a show, but i think i’ll be able to carry on.

  • Keith

    I think the real reason for the dramatic rise in online video vieweing is a direct result of the Iphone, Ipod, Zune, and other video mobile devices that now make accessing online content easier.

    I think the writer’s strike is helping encourage people to explore alternatives to sitting on the couch for 3 hours a night. Personally I’d rather access the 40 minute or 20 minute content and cut out the worthless commercials.

  • Andy I agree. Did anyone expect that online video watching wasn’t going to increase? I can’t see this having anything to do with the writer’s strike and the story sounds more like something to get the networks to give a little to get the writers back.

    I may watch more video online than I did a few years ago, but writer’s or not I haven’t changed from watching tv at prime time to watching video. If anything I’m just flipping channels a little more away from the networks and toward cable.

  • Keith, I’m pretty sure that people who watch a lot of TV already know about the online alternatives, that’s why I doubt that the strike had anything to do with it. Growth is natural at this point but again, I seriously doubt that it’s a result of the strike.

    Alan Johnson

  • Pingback: Marketing News Roundup, November 26()

  • Pingback: Record Broken: Americans Viewed 20 Billion Video Ads in June | Uk Marketing()

  • Pingback: Record Broken: Americans Viewed 20 Billion Video Ads in June ,Vancouver Island, Canada()