Overhype

by Mike Masnick




TV Execs Missing The Point About Connection Between iTunes Downloads And Viewers

from the let's-try-this-again dept

There's a bit of buzz out there over the news that NBC executives are claiming that putting their show The Office on iTunes has resulted in a big jump in viewership. As some skeptics point out, it's nearly impossible to determine how much of the bump is due to the show being available on iTunes for $2 an episode -- even if it was one of the most popular purchases. There are a variety of reasons to discount the claim. First, the show moved from Tuesday to Thursday nights -- a much more popular time slot. Also, the show has been getting a lot of critical acclaim lately, and that's probably leading to word of mouth appeal. They also placed it right after My Name is Earl, which is another quirky show that targets a similar audience and also has received a fair amount of critical acclaim and buzz. Finally, with so few TV shows available on iTunes, The Office would likely have received a boost simply by standing out against the competition in a weak market online. As more TV shows are offered on iTunes, the value to each one in attracting new viewers is likely to diminish. There's a good chance that all of these factors contributed to the viewership quite a bit. However, the really interesting point is that, if NBC execs are so thrilled about this bump in viewership by putting out an expensive download with a limited audience who can view it, why not just offer the same show up for free? You get a lot more viewers who are likely to get hooked on the show, meaning many more who will watch it on TV. They could even add in some commercials and recoup some money that way. It would definitely provide a lot more viewers, and viewers who are happier, since they'll have more freedom with the content and they'll even be able to share it with their friends to get more buzz going. There are obviously tradeoffs here, and perhaps the execs are calculating that $2/show and a much smaller overall viewership is worth more than a much larger viewership seeing the ads -- but it's hard to see that calculation adding up. Still, it is amusing that executives insist that things like BitTorrent have no redeeming value in terms of attracting people to a show, and yet $2 iTunes downloads are just dandy. Something doesn't add up.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Wolfger, 17 Jan 2006 @ 10:44am

    You're kidding, right?

    I mean, trying to apply *LOGIC* to the entertainment industry? Come on! That'll never work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ted, 17 Jan 2006 @ 10:55am

      Re: You're kidding, right?

      there are 2 reasons i download shows(via bittorrent) 1) no commericals
      2) TV will not run my schedule

      so if they are trying to say that bittorrent doesnt produce them more $$, then that would be correct. as far as fans go. you can thank the quality of the show for that. look at battlestar, it had minor sucess when it started, but look at it now. one of the Best shows on TV(or bittorrent).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 17 Jan 2006 @ 1:00pm

    +1 viewer here

    I think the industry only cares about viewers as defined as "people who's viewing generate $$" either through ads, or through cash from iTunes.
    I have only seen The Office via iTunes. I downloaded the British version over bittorrent. I paid for the American seasons, and could have downloaded them via bittorrent.

    So that's 17 episodes x $2 = $34 probably half of which goes to the netword. How does $1 (assumed) per episode per viewer compare to what they are making through ads?

    Now, do we define viewer as an instance of someone (potentially the same person, multiple times) watching the show? If so, then if I watch a network broadcast with commercials, and then buy the iTunes version, that probably should count as two "viewers." If someone Tivo the show and skips the commericals, does they count as zero viewers (excluding product placement)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2006 @ 4:26pm

    No Subject Given

    Please RTFA - the Office has always been paired with Earl, the show is the most downloaded of NBC's offerings, and the jump is based on both retention of Earl's audience (a key metric for a bottom of the hour show) and highs in the 18-49 demo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matt, 18 Jan 2006 @ 6:08am

    No Subject Given

    Don't forget that the lead role in the Office is the same guy who starred in the 40-year old Virgin, which is a huge hit (among my friends anyway) and has drawn many people into watching the Office.

    The Office is actually pretty bad IMHO. I like Earl, but the Office isn't really funny. I feel sorry for the guys paying for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.