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The Internet Has The Power To Transform Your TV Show Into A TV Brand

Since the first television “play” was transmitted in 1930, television programs have evolved from occasional entertainment to must-have media. The Internet has continued to fuel this evolution with the growth of online content specific to television programs. In order to more fully understand how the Internet has impacted TV viewer behavior, Yahoo! partnered with interactive marketing agency, Deep Focus, on Engage and Entertain: the Impact of the Internet on your TV Show Brand, an in-depth study fielded from September through December 2007.1 The following summarizes findings from the study.

the show’s online presence in conjunction with the weekly episode.

The Internet Drives Viewer Engagement Before A Show Airs
If you’re waiting until your new show airs to unveil the show’s online strategy, you’re waiting too long. This study found that significant TV viewer engagement activity occurs prior to the first airing of a new television show. The majority of information seeking activity (64%) for new shows peaks pre-season whereas information seeking for current shows is fairly constant throughout the season (52% pre-season; 48% after the beginning of the season).
TV Info Seekers Become Regular Viewers (Percentage of people who say they watch a show regularly and looked for information about the show)

The New TV: It’s Not Your Parents’ Television
Years ago, families crowded around their living room television weekly to tune in and discover the latest trauma in the Brady Bunch household. Some nights the family would watch together. Some nights it would just be brother and sister. Some nights the TV stayed dark because no one was home. Welcome to the new TV where must-see shows are never missed—they’re taped or DVR’d. This study found that a third of all TV viewers want more than the weekly show—they go online to engage more deeply. The new TV is about knowing everything there is to know about the past show, the future show, the characters and, in some cases, the actors who play them. The new TV is about sharing all of this knowledge with friends and coworkers around the virtual water cooler via email, IM and social networks. While both older viewers (35+ years) and younger viewers (under 35 years) seek information on TV shows online, older viewers see the weekly airing of a show as the “main event.” For younger viewers, the weekly episode of a show is only one part of the much larger “brand” of the show represented by

New Show

13% 70%
Current Show


Yahoo!, Deep Focus, 2008

The experience a TV viewer has during this online information seeking activity has an impact on the viewer’s behavior, including the decision to watch a show initially as well as loyalty to a TV show throughout the season. For television viewers who go online for information on a new show, those who seek information pre-season are more likely to become regular viewers (19%) versus those who seek information after the beginning of the season (13%). For current shows, the results are even more significant, at 70% becoming regular viewers (seeking information

pre-season) versus 39% (after beginning of season). Those who seek information pre-season are also more likely to watch the show when it actually airs each week rather than watching it later. Perhaps most importantly, viewers who engage with a show pre-season convince an average of 5.1 of their friends to watch the show.
TV Info Seekers Convince More Friends to Watch (Number of people TV viewers say they have convinced to watch a show)

The most avid TV viewers tend to be into media meshing, with 65% of respondents reporting they search online for information about a TV show while they are watching it and 32% saying they keep a laptop within reach most of the time they are watching TV. A TV show’s most valuable viewers—those who go out of their way to recommend a show to others—are much more likely to be engaging with the show online, with 85% using online search to find TV show information.

New Show

Implications For Marketers
A TV show is no longer just about the episode airing in any particular week—it is about the brand experience created for viewers, before a show even airs. Understanding how viewers use online search to find information about TV shows, and how they engage with the content they find, is the first step in developing an online strategy that will transform your TV show into a TV brand.

3.9 5.3
Current Show

3.8 5.1
All Shows


Yahoo!, Deep Focus, 2008

Online Drives Deeper Engagement In TV Shows As TV Show Brands
Viewers in this study said they favor the Internet as a source for TV show information because it is quick and easy to use and provides comprehensive, in-depth information. Eightyone percent (81%) of study participants said the Internet provides them with the “best scoop” on new TV shows, and 72% reported that the Internet helps them “stay in touch” with what’s happening on shows they watch. The majority (78%) of viewers who go online for TV information use online search engines to find what they’re looking for. TV watchers who use online search are highly engaged in TV shows and view television as a primary source of entertainment. The online presence of a show provides the show’s viewers with new ways to express their passion for a show and become more engaged with the show as well as with the show’s producers/network, and with other viewers.


The study included more than 2,000 survey participants who watch television

shows at least 2-3 times a week and looked for information online for at least one TV show title from a pre-determined list in the 30 days prior to the survey. The list included shows that were new for the season as well as those that had already been airing for at least one full season.

If you have questions on how to better leverage Yahoo! to engage your viewers, contact:

Jeff Rynkiewicz (East Coast)

Kari Allen (West Coast)

© 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.