When 46% Of The CBS TV Audience Watch Their Shows Online, You Know The World Is Changing

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I’m sort of a statistics geek. I love hearing crazy things like 46% of CBS‘ TV audience watch the network’s shows online. That was the big headline from MediaWeek on Monday with their news item, CBS: 46% of TV Audience Watch Network’s Shows Online.

Here’s what they claim is going on:

"According to a new report issued by CBS Interactive, less than half of the network’s online audience (46 percent) primarily views their favorite shows online, and most say that the wide availability of these shows across the Internet does not impact their TV viewing. In fact, 35 percent of the nearly 50,000 streamers survey by researcher Magid Media Labs on behalf of CBS reported that they are more likely to view shows on the network as a result of having been exposed to content on the Web."

If I’m reading this right, the Web is not stealing audience away from TV, but rather helping them to build it. I would think that this is exactly what a strong integrated mass media play should do.

"Online viewing also appears to be driving down CBS’ new median age. While the network draws the oldest average audience on TV—54, according to a recent report issued by Magna Global USA—the median age of CBS’ streaming audience is 38, according to Magid."

So, on top of this, they’re also opening up their consumer base to more and more people (of a younger demographic) while supporting the common battle-cry of new media people (like me) that by opening up their content and making it more readily available to those who want it (when they want it on their own terms) is growing their ratings both online and on-air.


  1. doesn’t surprise me one bit if media companies made all their content available to download the % would be higher. Now this is the type of convergence Henry Jenkins spoke about in his book ‘convergence culture’ still just as relevant today. Keep the great stats coming !!!

  2. Hey Mitch
    That seems strange to me. I watch most TV shows on itunes and have almost stopped watching traditional TV. If I’ve seen a show online or downloaded it, i don’t need to see it again. Are they saying that online viewing builds brand loyalty to CBS? For myself the more i move I to the internet, the less I need the TV. I want what i want when i want it and am not going to sit around waiting for it.

  3. Great post, Mitch.
    @David Usher – I disagree with you about how watching TV online negates from a networks brand. I’m like you in that I rarely ever watch TV on a TV, and instead just download or stream my favourite shows. Many networks, like NBC, are adding their branding and advertisements as overlays during the show.
    This lets me know where its coming from, and also tells me that it is freely available online, two things that will build brand loyalty.

  4. You know, I think your right. If someone recommends a TV show that I should watch, I’ll probably download it first. If I like it, I’d rather catch it on the tube than spend an hour waiting for it to download. / :

  5. @David – I think it depends on how you view entertainment. A recurring theme I’ve been seeing when I talk with people about watching shows on the computer versus the TV is that the computer isn’t passive. For all of TVs downsides, you just have to turn it on and flip through the channels. With a computer, you need to think about what you want, go find it, download it, load it up in whatever player you prefer.
    I don’t think one is better than the other. I think it’s a matter of context. Most of the time, like yourself, I know exactly what I want and will go get it. I’m not in the mood to wait around. But other times, I just want to vegetate. TV is better for that. And one thing we know about most north americans is that we love to vegetate. It’s bad for us, but it’s what we do.
    Accordingly, in this context, I don’t find the statistic surprising at all. We go online to discover new things and expand our world, but we fall back to TV to just kick back.

  6. @parker
    i agree that if i watch “The Riches” online it builds the brand of “The Riches” and to some extent FOX online (not actually sure what network its on:), but im not sure that leads me back to brand loyalty on traditional TV. I might well spend my (@Mario) passive TV watching on something completely different, CNN for instance. Something that streams live all the time. But then again, im not relying on stats, just my viewing habits.

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