Does a million views online equal a million eyeballs on TV?


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Does a million views online equal a million eyeballs on TV?
By Zan Azlee

It is a common fact these days among media practitioners that the Internet is clearly blowing away traditional media when it comes to audience numbers and eyeballs.

At the last place I worked at (a 24 hour news channel), the numbers for its digital platform were several times more than their television channel. And this is happening everywhere.

More people are just turning to the Internet to consume their information rather than going to traditional media like television or radio.

And this has led me to the conclusion that the Internet has now become the mainstream media platform that is serving the mass audience.

(Note that I did not say that traditional media will die. It won’t. It will just be serving other purposes as it adapts to continue to stay relevant.)

But what do the numbers really mean?

For example, if a particular video online gets 1 million views, does it mean that this number is equivalent to 1 million views on television?

The question I’m trying to pose here is whether or not the way the audience is measured for the Internet and traditional media similar or different.

An interesting article on Gawker by Kevin Draper titled ‘Internet video views a 100 percent bullshit metric’, provides some explanation to this.

For many decades, television ratings all around the world have been most commonly measured by the Nielsen Corporation.

They get a sample of people to and observe their TV sets and then extrapolate the data they receive to represent the overall audience.

The numbers that Nielsen gets aren’t concurrent viewers but actually the average audience watching a particular show across each minute.

Now on an average, most online videos are viewed more than television shows are on televisions. The numbers show that. So what do these numbers really mean?

For example, an online video on Facebook Live that gets about 800,000 views would actually be closer to almost zero if it was measured the way TV ratings are measured.

Viewership would probably start out low and increase. Not many would watch the entire video. But, Facebook would count anyone who watches for more than 3 seconds as one viewer.

And to make things even more exaggerated, Facebook videos are on autoplay in your timeline feed. So the numbers are definitely going to be high.

So now what do you think about the audience metrics for the Internet?

But of course, before you jump up, scream and throw away your laptop or mobile device, let me tell you that there still are advantages to how the audience is measured online.

Audience demographics and psychographics can be measured more accurately online if compared to how Nielsen measures it for traditional media.

The Internet knows a whole lot about a particular individual who watches a video. From what they search for online right up to what they enjoy doing in their free time and whatever else.

Come on! It’s the Internet we’re talking about here. Everybody’s deepest and darkest secrets can be discovered. And Facebook knows everything!

Nielsen’s method of measuring traditional media’s audience has no capability to capture that kind of information. So that’s how the Internet get’s to grab everyone by the gonuts.

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