'Real' TV and Online TV Get Cozier - What the Ratings Move Says About Online TV
The decision by the broadcast networks to include content ratings -- TV-PG, TV-14 TV-MA and the like -- on their Web site streaming of shows will have virtually no impact on who watches the shows.
The only thing that matters about the move Monday by ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, TeleFutura, Telemundo and Univision to include content ratings in online streams starting Dec. 1 is its symbolism. The plan to expand TV content ratings underscores just how seriously TV networks and programmers view the future of online TV. They are treating it with the same set of “standards and practices” that they treat what goes on air, and in a way that could appease parental lobbying groups and lawmakers concerned about youth viewing.
While online streaming still accounts for only a small portion of a show’s audience, it’s becoming a not-to-be-dismissed component of TV ad revenue and viewership. That’s why the ratings initiative is one piece in a slew of shifts to bring online TV closer to traditional TV. That includes efforts by programmers and Web portals to increase the ad loads in online TV shows to mirror on-air more closely, as well as the moves to weave Nielsen GRPs into online video buying from AOL, Google, Tremor Video and others. The content ratings decision should be viewed through the same prism -- it’s the next step in the twining of online TV and on-air TV.
Hulu already includes content ratings in its streams.