Television networks are slowly learning how to use the Internet to their advantage—new data from Nielsen//NetRatings shows that television web sites see a spike in usage during prime time. During the month of February, 40 percent of the time spent on NBC.com was spent between the hours of 8pm and 11pm EST. Competitors ABC and Fox also did well, with 30 percent of the time spent at ABC and 26 at Fox occurring during prime time.
Similarly, web sites aimed at kids get a boost between 5pm and 8pm daily, as kids log into reference site for help with their homework or social networking sites to avoid said homework. Dictionary.com saw its heaviest usage during that time slot, with 31 percent of its total time spent during that time period. Right behind Dictionary.com is Lycos Network Angelfire, a popular social networking site.
Another big winner during the 5-8pm time slot is food-related web sites. CondéNet, which owns Epicurious.com, and About.com's Food & Drink sectionsee their peak usage during that time, presumably as harried adults trying to get dinner ready look online for inspiration.
Interactive television shows are also driving changes in usage patterns. "The advent of interactive television such as voting online for contestants onDancing with the Stars andGrease: You're the One that I Want, encourages the simultaneous consumption of TV and Web content," said Nielsen//NetRatngs media analyst Michael Pond. "Advertisers can also take advantage of the interplay between these two media, adding online promotions to their traditional 30 second television
In many ways, the increased popularity of laptops and WiFi work to television broadcasters' advantage. Sitting on the TV with a laptop while watching the idiot box is a lot more common. On Tuesdays, Jacqui is busy refreshing votefortheworst.com on her MacBook while watching American Idol and cheering for Sanjaya. Me? I've been known to stay up late on Friday nights watching Super 14 rugby while surfing planet-rugby.com. There is definitely synergy between the two mediums, and the networks are finally catching on.