NBC'S BIG 3 RATE HIGHER WITH NET SET: ZENITH MEDIA TRACKS NIELSEN DATA WITH HIGH-INCOME, WIRED VIEWERS

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Prime-time TV series "ER," "Friends" and "Frasier" get significantly higher ratings in homes that have access to the Internet, according to a new study.

TV usage in general, however, is about 4% lower in Internet homes, per data from what will be a regular tracking of prime-time viewing by Zenith Media Services, New York.

"As Internet usage grows, it's terribly important to understand the impact on television," said Zenith CEO Rich Hamilton, who added that the media services company will examine the TV data every six months.

"Friends' and "Frasier" registered an average 17.8 rating and 17.7 rating, respectively, in total U.S. homes in February, according to data from Nielsen Media Research's National Television Index. But in homes with Internet access, those ratings jumped to a 25.2 and 24.2, respectively.

Likewise, in homes with incomes in excess of $100,000, "Friends" registered a 23.9 rating, while in Internet homes with the same income level the show garnered a 26 rating.

AT LOW END OF TOP 10

On the low end of the 10 top shows for the month, the No. 9 show in the Nielsen list that month, the "CBS Sunday Movie," averaged a 12.5 rating overall and a 9.2 in Internet homes.

In the $100,000-plus income bracket, it garnered a 9.9 in all homes and just a 7.2 in Internet homes, according to the Zenith analysis.

"Touched by an Angel," also on CBS, was the No. 8 show for the month in the Nielsen data. It pulled a 14.3 rating overall but 11.6 in homes with Internet access. Its Internet rating trailed the total-home rating in the upper-income classification, too.

VALUE TO INTERNET ADVERTISERS

"It was surprising to see some of the programs doing better in the Internet homes," said Helen Katz, Zenith's senior VP-director of strategic resources.

Since an increasing number of marketers are now running ad campaigns that tie in interactive and traditional media, Ms. Katz said, it's "valuable for [those advertisers] to know what TV shows homes with Internet access are particularly interested in."

In measuring viewing by network, Zenith found that the nets targeting the upscale urban audience do best in Internet homes.

Viewers in Internet homes are 12% more likely to watch NBC, for example, than the other broadcast networks. Close behind is ABC -- 11% of Internet home are more likely to watch ABC than the other nets.

Fox and the WB deliver higher teen ratings in Internet homes. The WB did much better in the ratings of its shows in Internet homes with viewers under 18 -- nearly 10% higher -- than in homes with viewers under 18 with no Internet access..

"We believe this is a result of the development of popular chat rooms and Web sites related to these shows, which has encouraged viewing," the study stated.

Among the TV series benefiting from such Web activity are "Seventh Heaven,"

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