Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is online TV for real? You betcha.

Hard upon the heels of her Joe-the-Plumber -clogged visit to Memorial Coliseum, Sarah Palin is attracting even more attention elsewhere--online, on, for example. reports that while the live TV-viewing audience was SNL's largest in 14 years, it will soon be surpassed by the online viewing audience:

Two clips of the Alaska governor on "SNL," her fake press conference and appearance on "Weekend Update," have racked up 6.1 million views on Derivative versions such as those used in news coverage, as well as pirated versions of the clips, have been viewed another 2.85 million times on sites like YouTube, MySpace and Yahoo, according to web video measurement firm Visible Measures.

Combined, the videos have been viewed 8.85 million times since Sunday, an impressive number in four days. But that doesn't include what may be the biggest source of online viewing: NBCU and News Corp.'s joint venture

Neither Hulu nor NBC will provide Hulu's streaming numbers, but they're likely to be high. Hulu streamed four times as many videos (142 million) as (36 million) during September, according to Nielsen's Video Census. While it's possible a high percentage of viewers looking for "SNL" clips would go first to, it's also likely that Hulu counts for as many, if not more, views as NBC. The opening skit with Tina Fey holding a press conference as Sarah Palin, while the real VP nominee looked on, was the No. 3 most watched Hulu clip this week, while the clip of Amy Poehler's Palin rap sat at No. 2.

The success of points to three important trends for marketers and other communication-watchers:
  • Audiences are learning that there's no sense in investing 30 minutes in a show when you can watch the best bits in a fraction of the time. Shorter is better.
  • The size of the audience gravitating to online viewing is only going to increase, so keep an eye on what you're being asked to pay for broadcast and cable air time.
  • Also pay close attention to content that's timely, and line up your advertising accordingly. Palin is a phenomenon, but a week from Wednesday she may start to be forgotten altogether. Get on the bandwagon as soon as you can, but bail out before the wheels start to fall off.

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