New research shows that online video series have a higher audience engagement level than that of standard TV programming. The research was done by Web TV network creator Next New Networks and YouTube, and research/consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates.During two months of polling this spring, 54% of people who said they watch Web original videos thought them to be as much as or more entertaining than traditional TV shows. They made a very real distinction between the two and believed that they could note be lumped into one category as they are different forms of video. The videos were seen to be original, have fewer boundaries and more adaptable to personal viewing. That last part is obviously because they are online and can be watched whenever the viewer desires.

"The study uncovered strong consumer appeal of Web original programming as compared to traditional television shows," said Mike Vorhaus, managing director of Frank Magid Associates. "The findings confirm what many have believed for some time now: there is incredible content and talent available on the Web."

A whopping 60% say they watch original Web content weekly and 58% said they view it as quality entertainment, on demand. Whether it was more or less entertaining than TV, only 25% said it was more. In terms of full engagement, online video was 2.5 times more likely to induce full engagement than TV programming did.

Other quick stats:

  • Over 50% read comments on the videos
  • 41% rate the videos they watch
  • 37% of viewers surf the web while watching online video versus 60% of TV viewers
  • 28% talk to others with online video while 52% do so during TV (I hate people that talk during TV and film)
  • Over 75% said they tell others via email, social networks or face-to-face about their favorite online originals.
  • 40% share them with others, 37% email links, 36% post on Facebook/MySpace, 10% use Twitter to share.
  • Online TV Schauen

    Thanks for sharing this post. I agree with the premise that more people are now hooked on online programming. Primarily, more people are now doing other things online so most of them would just tune online to see their favorite shows.

  • Tony Coll

    Figures like "60%" are meaningless unless we know the size of the sample. Was it large enough to be statistically significant? Or just a few guys hanging out in Magid's favourite bar?

  • Akaroy

    Chris, Thanks for the article. Here's my web series. I think we've raised the bar on production and entertainment! Roy

  • Jeff Martin

    Do we know what video sharing sites were included in the study other than YouTube?

    • Christophor Rick

      Hi Jeff,

      That's a good question so I've contacted Magid's NYC office to hopefully get that info as soon as possible as well as a deeper look into the entire research and maybe pull out some more useful info.

  • kuram

    If engagement level is so high and some of these videos have over a million views (comparatively Lost had 10-14 million viewers per ep), why are web series not able to get even a crumb of advertising revenue as on TV?Is there a need to educate the media buyers and marketing manager on the true potential of online advertising? Even though the gap between an online ad and a purchase is closer than on TV.....

    • Christophor Rick

      Hey Kuram,

      I'll quote some numbers from the research I just wrote up:

      In Q2 2010 Digital Video Advertising was 5% or roughly $332M of the overall online ad market. When compared to Q2 2009 (roughly $216M) it showed growth of $94M for that period. That’s a massive 65%.

      In regards to the first half 2009 vs 2010 Digital Video saw 31.4% growth in revenue. ($477M vs. $627M = $150M growth). That’s still a pretty steep growth curve. Digital video continues to experience record growth, this year achieving the highest half-year performance ever.
      Read more:

      So in regards to your question, I think it's a combination of there not being enough money to cover everyone online yet, and the fact that advertising is a very slow moving industry. Look how long it took for TV ads to catch on from Radio and even when it did, it was the same format. It just needs more time.

      That's my take on it anyway.