Consumer behavior and interactions with digital platforms like Google's YouTube and search engines continue to change the dynamics of television viewership. Research from Google provides insight into the influence of a show's popularity and the positive connection between search, video and engagement.
Some of the findings reveal year-over-year growth in online television activity and in TV-related queries on Google and YouTube, and an increase in the amount of time viewers spend watching, engagement with, and views of TV-related videos on YouTube. TV viewers also are beginning their research well before a show's premiere, with activity continuing several weeks beyond the premiere.
The white paper -- The Role of Digital in TV Research, Fanship, and Viewing -- published by Google explores the ways that viewers use Google search and YouTube to enhance their experiences beyond television sets. The paper details the importance and growth of TV-related online research, the prevalence of fan engagement through video, and the role of online to help viewers catch up with content or research a show before watching it
"People are searching online for information at different points depending on the show," said Jennifer Duddy, head of industry for the Media & Entertainment group at Google. "About 90% of TV viewers watch videos on YouTube, but 60% use search on YouTube and 54% use Google. People are searching for information before the TV shows air, and sometimes they do searches throughout the season while on-air."
Google examined search activity, video views and engagement metrics to better understand how viewers use these platforms. The group sampled 100 network and cable shows to reveal how the corresponding online behavior became a clear indicator of a show's popularity.
For fall television programs, interest builds during upfronts and continues beyond the premiere, with increased activity during key show announcements and TV-oriented conferences like ComicCon and the Television Critics Association Press Tour (TCAs).
New shows see spikes during upfront announcements, and then interest builds again about two months before the premiere date. Returning shows, in contrast, see consistent volume throughout the off-air period. New shows generally have fewer searches than returning shows, but have twice as many queries, on average, for promos, ratings and reviews. This suggests viewers are doing their homework prior to tuning in.
Interestingly, there is also more online search activity early on for dramas and comedies. Queries for reality programs pick up in the few weeks leading up to premiere and are sustained post-premiere.
"In examining search intensity (queries/live plus three-day viewership), serialized dramas -- especially teen dramas such as Vampire Diaries and Arrow -- have the highest search intensity, followed by comedies and reality shows. Procedural dramas, in contrast, have the lowest search intensity," per the white paper.
Aside from the show's title, some of the most common TV-related search terms include season, TV show, network and cast modifiers, among others. Of these, Google sees that some remain throughout the premiere timeline. For instance, promo queries spike during upfront week and tend to begin building again two months prior to the premiere.
Premiere-related queries tend to become more proximate during the weeks leading up to the show, and immediately following the premiere. Ratings and review queries usually become heaviest during premiere week and the weeks that follow.