Tail wags the dog…

 Posted by on February 15, 2006 at 5:20 pm  Personal Media  Add comments
Feb 152006

or mobile media promotes its TV big brother. As iTunes and other mobile media portals take hold it comes as a surprise that the media is surprised about an effect which seems rather obvious – those who watch iPod video TV shows switch on to their TV equivalents. The report out today from TV week about the dreadful US remake of the brilliant Gervais UK office points out that the popularity of the mobile download is pulling audiences back or for the first time to the TV show.

Then on Jan. 5, the prime-time series moved to Thursday nights and delivered a 4.5 in adults 18 to 49, then its highest rating ever for a regular slotted telecast, which was bested last week with a 5.1 in the demo. Also on Jan. 5, it served up its best retention ever of its lead-in, “My Name Is Earl,” capturing 87 percent of that show’s audience, up from its previous 71 percent average. On Jan. 12 it retained 86 percent of its lead-in. And the ratings bump can’t be attributed to a change in lineup, since “The Office” has been paired with “My Name Is Earl” all along.

This may be a little early to start to suggest that iTunes is a wonderful promotional vehicle for TV but I suspect it is very true. Both from the perspective of music downloads which boosted CD sales some years ago and as a now dedicated iPod video watcher (yes I am regularly watching films over an hour long on the device) it creates a personal connection with linear media properties even more than owning the DVD. Would love academics out there to give me some insight into why we are more connected with something we carry with us, vs just own or vs we just enjoy through broadcast (TV and cinema distribution) – but it may be obvious. Of course we are likely to see DVD’s themselves having greater sales as the mobile generation decide they need to own a better quality version of their trusted, now personalized media. The report goes on to list other TV properties that are starting to be influenced by the iTunes phenomenom…

To date since their debut on iTunes in October, both “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” are up versus the same period last year.
“Lost,” ABC’s most popular show in terms of downloads, has seen its total audience rise 14 percent and ratings for adults 18 to 49 are up 28 percent. “Desperate Housewives'” total audience is up 7 percent and 18 to 49 ratings are up 3 percent. ITunes downloads for both shows also rose in the last few weeks.
That growth and the knowledge that iTunes distribution possibly grew and certainly did not cannibalize ratings gave the ABC Disney Television Group the confidence to add another round of iTunes programs last week that includes content from ABC Family, Disney Channel, SoapNet, ABC Sports and ESPN, said Albert Cheng, executive VP of digital media for the Disney ABC Television Group.

For those statistically inclined the report finishes with some eye openers – this does reverberate with similar stats I recall that connected DVD and Box Office and as I mentioned before MP3 downloads and CD sales…how about the relationship between those naughtly UK and Australian TV bit torrent downloaders and TV ratings, is that where the connection breaks?

  • To date, Apple has sold 8 million TV shows through iTunes since the Oct. 12 debut of the iPod video.
  • NBC inked a deal for 12 shows on iTunes in December; added “Saturday Night Live” in early January.
  • “The Office” accounts for about one-third of NBCU content downloads via iTunes.
  • The Jan. 12 telecast of “The Office,” with a 5.1 in the 18 to 49 demo, was up 31 percent versus the season average prior to the Dec. 6 Apple launch. Before the Apple launch, “The Office” was averaging a 3.9 in the demo.
  • Only three originals of “The Office” have aired since the Apple launch. The three are up an average of 18 percent in the demo, and the show has grown every week.
  • Of course this could all be premature as often cult type programmes such as the Office or an earlier example Fawly Towers grew at each repeat season and certainly in the case of Fawlty Towers (or Flowery Twats as I so often forgetfully call it!) there were no DVD’s, iPod Vides, PSP’s or even as I recall VHS’s to buy at the time. So which is it trend analysts – do mobile watchers reduce or grow the scheduled TV audiences?
    Posted by Gary Hayes Copyright 2006


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