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Dan Scheinman Tweet

Dan Scheinman, our Cisco Media Solutions Group GM and SVP, above, tweeted about how powerful social networks need professional content.

During last year’s television season -- from the Fall of 2009 to the Spring close of 2010 -- I noticed a trend that supports this belief. It seems the more web content a TV network produces around their broadcast TV programs, the more traffic their sites generate. I also discovered TV ratings of the 4 major TV networks do not correlate to which network TV web sites (ABC.com, CBS.com, Fox.com and NBC.com) are the most popular. In fact, when it comes to ranking the traffic to TV web sites of the major networks, it seems the volume of online content matters more than the TV ratings. 

Some TV networks, like NBC, produce quite a bit of volume of exclusive online content related to their broadcast TV programs.  In this Variety article (subscription required),  Vivi Zigler, President of NBC Universal Digital Entertainment, says NBC expects to have a lot of exclusive web content related to their fall programming launching over the next several weeks: “We want to develop an online experience that’s organic to the show.” And for the important May sweeps rating period, the network pushed heavily into original web content related to their TV programming; NBC put out a press release outlining the May web programming.

I had our UCLA Anderson MBA Intern Colby Smith evaluate the amount of “web extensions” each network produced over the 2009 – 2010 TV season. It’s not an easy job, he had to spend hours on each of the TV network web sites reviewing content. We define “web extensions” as original, exclusive web programming related to broadcast TV programs – this content does not air on TV. For instance, this exclusive web feature “Dear Tracy” features the Tracy Jordan character from the  NBC TV show “30 Rock” answering viewer questions.

 

Web extensions can also be exclusive web games related to TV programs, or special slideshows, and behind the scenes features. By Colby’s estimates, NBC turned out 88 web extensions related to its TV programs between September 2009 and May 2010. Here’s how the other networks compared with their online production efforts.

CMSG Research on Amount of Web Extensions TV networks produce

Did NBC’s strategy of producing such a volume of original web content pay off? According to web traffic numbers generated by Omniture and ComScore MediaMetrix for the first quarter of 2010, yes. You can read the article with the ratings here, and our chart below based on the data shows NBC as the top network TV web site. 

Omniture - Comscore Ratings of TV Network Websites

ABC which produced 48 web extensions, is the #2 most popular TV network site.

Fox, which produced the least amount of web content around its TV programming – only 15 – had the least trafficked TV network web site with 4.8 million average monthly unique visitors in Q1 2010.

Yet the TV ratings over the past year tell a different story about viewership. NBC was actually ranked last in the TV ratings provided by Nielsen.

Nielsen Primetime TV Ratings

Despite the lower ratings, NBC was able to maintain it’s spot as the most popular network TV web site and maybe it’s because of its focus on online content. We believe CBS and Fox, the #1 and #2 highest rated TV networks for the Fall 2009 – Spring 2010 season, lagged behind NBC.com and ABC.com in web traffic because they seem to lack the same kind of volume of exclusive web content NBC and ABC produce.

Question for our readers -- Do you watch the ‘web extensions’ of TV show content? Do you go to TV network sites for exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ clips or web series related to broadcast TV shows? Let us know in the comments below, we are interested in your take.


Not only does web traffic go up with the amount of professional content a media company is able to get on to their site, time spent on the site increases as well with volume of professional content. We attended the 2010 Bandwidth Conference in San Francisco. At the conference, Jeremy Welt, SVP of New Media at Warner Brothers Records, explained how the amount of professional photos posted on artist web sites increases time spent on the sites by web visitors. Watch this Bandwidth Conference dialogue with Jeremy Welt, and also Lee Hammond, Director of New Media at Interscope Records. Also spotted in the video: Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman listening intently to Jeremy Welt’s findings.

Dan Scheinman inspired this blog post with his tweet about the power of professional content, so we’ll wrap it up with a few words from Dan also speaking about the topic at the Bandwidth Conference. Here Dan reiterates the theme of the post, and he explains how social engagement on media and entertainment web sites through user generated content (UGC) is also important part of a media web site’s content plan. 

Thanks for reading and leave us feedback below in the comments.

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