America Loves TV

Even with increasing options online, on tablets, and elsewhere, the average person still watched 34 hours of broadcast network and basic cable TV per week in 2010, up by about 1 percent from 2009.  You could watch both seasons of Glee in their entirety in that amount of time! (Well… without including all of the commercials, that is – ah, the beauty of TiVo.)

While we don’t track whether people are actually watching this much TV, at Compete, we can track whether the average online user spends as much time on the networks’ official websites.  Looking at the four biggest national commercial broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC), it seems that ABC typically had the highest number of unique visitors (UVs) to its abc.go.com site from May 2010 to May 2011.

CBS keeps a close second place, especially after fall shows premiered in September.  Interestingly enough, NBC, which normally has fewer visitors, saw a huge spike this May. Since I personally kept tabs on The Voice on NBC’s site, I wondered if others were doing the same.  While there were large increases due to The Voice (49% M-o-M for The Voice in general and 102% M-o-M for The Voice videos of the blind auditions and battle rounds), it turns out that the spike was driven by a 202% M-o-M increase in interest for Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice (including a 222% M-o-M increase in visitors watching Apprentice videos) as the season ended and America wanted to know who got fired.

However, when it comes to the average time spent on the sites, CBS visitors spend slightly more time on the site than ABC visitors, and FOX online visitors spend just as much, if not more, time than NBC visitors.

Yet on average, users only spend approximately half an hour on the network sites on a monthly basis.  That’s less than half of one percent of the time people are estimated on average to be watching TV monthly.  Certainly, while network sites do offer videos and/or complete episodes for many of their shows, monthly time per user on the sites is still relatively low.  With many options in digital video recording (DVR), online streaming and other ways of watching shows (some of which are listed in this recent article from PCMag.com), this isn’t too surprising given network websites’ limitations for visitors.  Most of the network sites only show short clips of videos or keep available only the most recent few episodes.

I smell a future blog coming into play, but as for now… we continue to tune in to TV to escape our own lives, living vicariously through those who think they can dance or those trying to find “true” love… Or, for some other shows, to be able to feel better about ourselves and be thankful that our lives are not as messed up or embarrassing – but that’s why we love TV, isn’t it?