Google Says Digital Activity Impacts Television Viewing

Google and YouTube say they have a significant impact on television viewing.

At a time when Twitter and Facebook are scrambling to get closer to TV networks and their advertisers, Google says in a new research report that 90% of TV viewers also visit Google and YouTube and that online behavior is a clear indicator of a show’s popularity.

“In an effort to identify how digital has impacted viewer behavior in this new era, we analyzed search queries, video views, and engagement metrics from a sample of 100 cable and network television shows,” Google said. The results of the study have been published in a report called The Role of Digital in TV Research, Fanship, and Viewing.

“Digital platforms have fundamentally changed the way that TV viewers research, participate in and access their favorite shows. Search, video and engagement activities, which show a positive correlation to viewership, can provide additional insight into a show’s popularity,” according to the report.

TV related searches on Google have grown 16%, and on YouTube, TV related searches are up 54% from last year.

Video views, time spent watching and engagement with TV-related content are also up, which Google says suggests that TV viewers are using these platforms to interact with other fans and engage with shows.

Much of the growth is coming from searches on mobile phones and tablets. Searches on phones are up 100% as people look for information about premiere dates, plot information and cast lists.

"Digital platforms are changing the way today’s viewer experiences television,” the report says. “From sharing the new viral Jimmy Kimmel Live video to watching the promo for the premiere of The Walking Dead to searching for the actor who plays the funny cop on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one thing is clear: There are more ways than ever for TV audiences to research, participate in and access television content.”

Google says that 70% of viewers catch up on prior episodes before tuning in to a new season of a show. Catch up related searches on Google in the two months before a season starts are up 50% year-over-year. And of the people who catch up, 4 of 5 say they’re more likely to tune in to a season premiere.

Subscribers to TV networks’ official YouTube channels rose 69% during 2013.

YouTube users create a large volume of TV related content. For example, for every video uploaded on YouTube by HBO for Game of Thrones, YouTube members uploaded 82. On average, the YouTube community creates seven pieces of video for every one video a network uploads for a show.

The full report is available at Think with Google.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.