I came across an interesting story today regarding the popularity of news videos online. A recent study concluded that the most watched wideos online are made by individuals (this, this and this for example), as opposed to professionally produced bits. However, the second most watched online videos come from news stories.
This suggests to me that there is a market out there for hard news. People search it out online when they are unable to find it on television. Furthermore, the demographics suggest that the younger people – those supposedly disinterested in the world around them – are the ones that are searching out these online news videos.
20% of all online video viewers watch less TV as a direct result of using online video. Young males watch the most – 70% of men 18-24 watch online videos each week, including 25% who watch daily. The biggest female group was girls 12-17. Fifty-six percent watch weekly, including the 13% who watch daily.
In spite of the popularity of online news videos, according to the article, most TV stations have failed to develop the internet as a tool for their viewers. The author of the article asks why not all TV stations are posting their own stories online, but I believe that question is answered in the first on the stats above.
If 20% of all online video viewers watch less TV as a direct result of using online video, that means less advertising revenue for the TV station. Therefore, by not engaging the online community, they are hoping to keep as many people as possible watching the TV itself in order to maintain the ratings necessary to keep up their ad revenue.
For me, this results in two important problems:
1) TV stations may be able to hold on to the audience they have right now, but they are alienating the next generation of viewers by refusing to engage them in their medium of choice. This will result in the same loss in viewers as they face right now, possibly even worse. The stations will not be able to keep their advertisers and they will lose their revenue anyway and potentially go under.
2) The more important point, is that by refusing to stream their news stories online, TV stations are leaving this audience less informed on the major issues of the day. As we have discussed in class, this could potentially weaken our democracy as these people will not be able to make an informed decision.
The evidence from this study shows clearly that there is a large audience in this country looking for hard news online.
Hard news is becoming harder to find, but people find the stories that are available on the internet and share them with their friends through blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. It is a new level of democracy that people clearly still need to learn more about, however I think that TV stations are doing both themselves and our democracy a disservice by not engaging online.