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Google Think Insights | April 1, 2014

The Role of Digital in TV Research, Fanship and Viewing

Digital platforms are changing the way today’s viewer experiences television. From sharing the new viral Jimmy Kimmel Live video to watching the promo for the premiere of The Walking Dead to searching for the actor who plays the funny cop on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one thing is clear: There are more ways than ever for TV audiences to research, participate in and access television content.

With 90% of TV viewers visiting YouTube and Google Search, we looked at search activity, video views and engagement metrics to help us understand how viewers are using these platforms. Looking at a broad sample of 100 network and cable shows, we found that the corresponding online behavior is a clear indicator of a show’s popularity, as evidenced by a positive correlation between these activities and live plus three-day viewership. In this paper, we examine how viewers engage with and seek out these experiences on Google and YouTube, as well as the insights we can gain from their activities.

TV-related activity on Google and YouTube has grown year-over-year (YoY). Not only have searches across Google and YouTube grown, but there has also been a rise in video views, watch time and engagement on YouTube from 2012 to 2013, suggesting that TV viewers are increasingly using these platforms to interact with fellow fans and engage with a show.

While viewers continue to turn to multiple devices for television-related content, the query growth across Google and YouTube in the television category is driven by mobile and tablet, exceeding 100% on both of these devices.

Summary

Digital platforms have fundamentally changed the way TV viewers research, participate in and access their favorite shows. Search, video and engagement activities, which show a positive correlation to viewership, can provide additional insight into a show’s popularity. Here we summarize our key observations across Google and YouTube:

Research

We see online television activity growth in the YoY increase in TV-related queries on Google and YouTube, and a rise in watch time, engagement with, and views of TV-related videos on YouTube.

Across the board, viewers are starting their research well before a premiere, with activity continuing several weeks beyond the premiere.

Participation

TV audiences often look to go “beyond-the-episode” on YouTube.

YouTube’s subscribers are fans who actively engage with a show and other fans, and they’re often key in spreading the word.

YouTube users engage with their favorite shows through discussion and creation of new related content.

Access

Time shifting is here to stay, with catch-up behavior starting well before new seasons and continuing after episode premieres.

Sunday may be the most popular day of the week to both stream and catch up on shows.

See complete report findings on Google Think Insights