I Like The TV Show - But What Else Can You Give Me?

Stop what you are doing this second and think about a TV show, any one in particular.

Ask yourself -- why would you go to a network's Web site right now? To see some older "Heroes" episode you missed?  Perhaps something more pressing --say a summer game show, or catching up on "American Idol"?

As networks try to figure out how to hang on to their consumers -- outside of their usual prime-time lure -- it comes as no surprise some TV programmers are finding out it has a lot to do with what kind of unique extra stuff they can give viewers off the air.

Fox may have easily won summer's rating race (as well as the main season), but it was NBC that was the real winner on the Internet -- at least in July, anyway --when it came to its Web area.

NBC's nicely performing reality hit, "America's Got Talent," helped the network pull in about 4 million unique visitors a week to -- 12 million for the month overall. This was way ahead of other networks' sites. ABC and CBS took in about 5 million for the month, with Fox dead last at 4 million.



Now, the money generated on the Internet can't compete with the advertising dollars on TV -- even in the summer -- but it is a telltale sign that some time, down the road, this part of the ad equation will become a big factor.

Perhaps the most glaring example was ABC, just a few months ago, when its "Friday Night Bingo" witnessed decreasing ratings week to week. TV programmers looking at the pure TV viewership numbers would have easily called this show DOA by its second airing.

But "Bingo" had -- head-scratchingly -- soaring interest from users downloading bingo cards, which prominently displayed major advertisers' logos.  All that gave "Bingo" an unusual renewal.

It's easy to take one's prime-time shows and stick them on a network's Web area -- or some other approved Internet area (a la CBS) -- or a hopefully bigger, more centralized site (a la NBC and Fox with But the real magic, as our Internet friends have always said, is what else you can give viewers -- the real engaging stuff -- that keeps them coming back.

These examples tell networks like NBC and ABC to find those marketing/programming/social networking appendages that slaps consumers across the face, telling them: "Hey, I need to get to that network's Web site. Right now."

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