New Face of TV Viewership: Laptops and Tablets and Phones, Oh My!

A new study from Google shows that TV viewers are increasingly turning to YouTube on their laptops, smartphones, and tablets for content related to their favorite TV shows.

Here are a few of the key findings from the study:

  • TV-related activity is growing on Google and YouTube. Searches have grown by 16 percent on Google and 54 percent on YouTube search year-over-year. YouTube has also seen a rise in video views, watch time, and engagement around TV-related content, suggesting that TV viewers are increasingly using these platforms to interact with other fans and engage in a show. In fact, watch time on YouTube for TV-related content has grown 65 percent year-over-year. 
  • Mobile and tablet searches are spearheading growth. Searches for TV content on Google and YouTube have increased more than 100 percent year-over-year on mobile devices, where users are looking for quick bits of information like premiere-date, plot, and cast-related information, and on tablets, where users are looking for watch-related information. 
  • Activity on Google and YouTube is correlated with tune-in. The company’s analysis of Google searches, YouTube searches, and YouTube video views show positive .72, .74, and .67 correlations with “live plus three day” viewers, respectively.
  • The YouTube “community” actively creates TV-related content. In 2013, for every piece of content uploaded by a show’s network on YouTube in 2013, there were more than seven pieces of community-generated content related to a show. Some fan favorites far exceed that benchmark: Game of Thrones, for example, had 82 community-generated videos per video uploaded by the network and The Vampire Diaries had 69.
  • Subscribers are vital to driving awareness for new content. TV networks have been gaining subscribers for their official YouTube channels at a blistering rate, with an average per channel subscribership increase of 69 percent from the beginning of 2013 to the end of the year. These subscribers are vital to spreading content on YouTube. 
  • Catching up on seasons is on the rise, and drives tune-in. Google found that 70 percent of viewers catch up on prior episodes before tuning into a new season. And this intent appears to be on the rise. Catch-up-related searches on Google in the pre-premiere timeframe have grown by 50 percent year-over-year. For people who catch up on past seasons of returning shows, about half will start more than two months in advance. Analyzing behaviors around catch-up are important, since four in five viewers say they are more likely to tune into a season premiere after catching up on prior seasons.

What does this mean to digital marketers? There is an old saying, “If you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are.” Well, today’s TV audiences use Google, YouTube, and digital overall to extend and inform their TV-watching experience. So, you should be fishing in these waters, too.