It’s not news that the old line broadcast networks are grabbing millions of fans on YouTube, but a new study by ad tech firm Zefr takes a deeper look at how the networks stack up--and how viewers engage with their favorite shows.
For one thing, popular shows get YouTube engagements in funny ways. In particular, for Fox’s “Empire,” the Zefr data reveals, fan-generated uploads do an enormous amount of the work: 95% of “Empire”-related uploads come from fans, not Fox itself. On YouTube, “Empire” has gigantic clip views--106 million. That's extreme, maybe, but it's clear fans do a lot of the uploading across the board
If comparing the networks on engagements alone, NBC is tops, with 106.9 million. ABC is not that far away, with 91.4 million. But CBS (59.7 million) and Fox (26.4 million) are way back there.
NBC programs featured on YouTube, for example have 13.4 billion views, compared to just 3.6 billion for Fox, which oddly (to me at least) was slow off the mark in the YouTube clip biz. NBC also leads with engagements (106.9 million) and views (13.4 million).
The whole TV. 3.0 study by Zefr is available starting today on its Website and complies stats, network by network, on YouTube, from the time the video was uploaded through the end of February.
(The study swerves away from tabulating network sports YouTube clips, because sports rights puts games on various networks and that everything.).
ABC, by one measure, makes NBC seem lazy. ABC is a regular YouTube clip factory, aided, as are all the networks, by those viewer-created clips. However they get to YouTube, ABC programs have an amazing 353 million YouTube videos associated with them.
At network Upfronts get going, no doubt, each one of them will find a boasting point about their digital strategies. These are some of the numbers they'll be talking about.
It’s hard to say so much material results in so much engagement, but those are the sort of questions Zefr answers for clients. Its analysis of types of YouTube and Facebook fare and who is watching it, down to some finicky detail is at the heart of the business. It has a treasure trove of data.
For the networks, social media video views certainly aren't the greatest measure of success. Nielsen is. But the popularity of short videos does shake down to online revenue, too, and obviously leads digital viewers to watch and stay loyal to programs on the air.
Some network programming is just conducive to a clip culture; NBC is smart enough to recognize that--so shows like “The Voice” not only work on TV but it's good snackable stuff online. So is “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” which Zefr notes, has created 8,800 on-air moments that live on and on on YouTube.
In fact, the late night time period is where so much of the network clip action really is, as I was just singing to James Corden as we drove around Los Angeles last week. Corden’s karaoke videos have been a master stroke for a show host who was little known before his CBS late night show started. Now, Zefr reports, Corden’s clips have an astounding two billion total views and 36 million engagements.
But Fallon really put his signature on late night, creating an endless parade of quick content, His videos have notched 7.9 billion views and 58 million engagements. Jimmy KImmel’s playful war with Matt Damon and other quick concept themes, gives him about half as many total views as Fallon, and 33 million engagements. He's in the news, and on YouTube, again about tearful remarks he made about his baby son's heart condition and his pleas to make sure situations like that are still covered by insurance under any replacement for Obamacare. (The former president tweeted his approval.)
CBS's Stephen Colbert has just 1 billion total views and 14 million engagements. It would seem Zefr’s data collection may have stopped before Colbert really turned the show into a nighty roast of Donald Trump, which has turned that show around and made his monologue a clip staple for politics junkies.
The larger point, beyond the numbers, is that YouTube clips are a new kind of TV viewership, and definitely a new kind of TV publicity. The fact the networks or program producers don’t make a lot of those clips is just the proverbial cherry on top.