Changing Channels

FOB: Changing ChannelsTurns out we're not creatures of habit when we watch television shows on the Web. The highest-rated on-air shows don't translate into online popularity, according to Watercooler, which runs the 16 million-strong online community on social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

The top-rated tv shows online during the fall season, measured by user growth and audience engagement, were The Office, Grey's Anatomy, Family Guy, Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill. For the most part, these shows skew younger and more city-centric, matching the demographics of many online tv viewers, while only Grey's Anatomy and House were ranked in Nielsen's top 20 primetime shows for the week ending Dec. 7. Many of the top online shows also rank high when it comes to online buzz, as measured by Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

"Broadcast ratings from Nielsen look at a broader segment of the population that tends to skew older, while online numbers skew much younger, especially for social networking platforms," says Kevin Chou, ceo of Watercooler.
But series that might draw a niche audience on-air often lure passionate Web fans, he says. Shows like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and Supernatural fit that bill and have spawned fans sites and blogs along with a loyal online viewing base.

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