|Lost on the web: Does web distribution stimulate or depress television viewing?
|Waldfogel, J. (2009). Lost on the web: Does web distribution stimulate or depress television viewing? Information Economics and Policy, 21(2), 158-168.
|Definitive , Open Access
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|About the Data
|The data for this study come from a survey administered on the campus of the
University of Pennsylvania in May 2007. The survey was given to 287 persons on campus, who were asked about their use of television and the web for viewing television programming.
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In the past few years, YouTube and other sites for sharing video files over the Internet have vaulted from obscurity to places of centrality in the media landscape. The files available at YouTube include a mix of user-generated video and clips from network television shows. Networks fear that availability of their clips on YouTube will depress television viewing. But unauthorized clips are also free advertising for television shows. As YouTube has grown quickly, major networks have responded by making their content available at their own sites. This paper examines the effects of authorized and unauthorized web distribution on television viewing between 2005 and 2007 using a survey of Penn students on their tendencies to watch television series on television as well as on the web. The results provide a glimpse of the way young, Internet-connected people use YouTube and related sites. While I find some evidence of substitution of web viewing for conventional television viewing, time spent viewing programming on the web - 4 hours per week - far exceeds the reduction in weekly traditional television viewing of about 25 minutes. Overall time spent on network-controlled viewing (television plus network websites) increased by 1.5 hours per week.
Main Results of the Study
- The empirical literature on file sharing in music and movies has, for the most part, found depressing effects of web distribution on legal sales. This study too finds significant depressing effects of web distribution on conventional television viewing, but it also documents largely offsetting positive relationships, reflecting complementarity.
- Overall, conventional television viewing is reduced slightly in this sample, while overall viewing of network programming rises substantially. Hours spent viewing television programming overall nearly double with web distribution. While conventional television viewing falls by about 5 percent, this is more than offset by increases in time spent viewing network-authorized web programming.
- The networks’ own web distribution has smaller but similar effects as the unauthorized distribution on conventional television viewing. Of course, in the network efforts, the network broadcasts advertising, so the loss the traditional viewing is at least partially offset by online ad revenue.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The authors recommend wider-scale sampling for determining typical effects of web distribution of television programming on television viewing - the population selected for this research (media users on a college campus) is adequate for the study given its intense computer use, but it's not representative of the US population generally.
Coverage of Study
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