TV shows find young, affluent viewers on ‘net: study

TV shows find young, affluent viewers on 'net: study

Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:21 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. television networks draw a younger, wealthier and better educated audience when they run their shows over the Internet, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The study by Nielsen Analytics and Scarborough Research comes as networks have increasingly made hit TV shows — including ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and NBC's "Heroes" — available for viewing through computers.

Concerns that allowing consumers to view those popular programs and others over the Internet would cut into the number of people watching them on television are unfounded, the study found.

"Video on PCs and iPods actually is expanding the audience for broadcast and cable programs," the study said, citing data that total TV usage was at an all-time high in U.S. households at 8 hours, 14 minutes a day during the 2005-2006 TV season.

The report by Nielsen Analytics, a unit of market research firm Nielsen Co., found that Internet broadband "expands the market for programming by offering the potential for watching shows at the office, and in non-traditional locations, such as coffee shops equipped with WiFi connections."

Moreover, the audience watching shows over broadband is highly attractive for advertisers, who spend about $70 billion a year on TV commercials.

"The broadband consumer is really the sweet spot for TV — younger, more affluent, better educated and tech savvy," Larry Gerbrandt, general manager and senior vice president of Nielsen Analytics, said in an interview.

"If you're an advertiser, this is who you want to reach," he added.

Gerbrandt said the study found that households with broadband Internet connections — the type chiefly used to watch TV shows — are four times more likely that average to have a college education of higher.

They also are younger than the average American and have a higher income, the study found, saying 28 percent of broadband households had income of $100,000 or more.

Gerbrandt said advertisers could find yet another advantage running commercials over broadband — they cannot be skipped, unlike those that run on TV sets with digital video recorders.

"Over time, you would hope the viewers even realize that they can click on a link, interact with an ad message, and come back and watch the programming," he said.

ABC is a unit of Walt Disney Co, while NBC is owned by General Electric Co..

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