Comparison of Reach and Time for US TV and Web Properties

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by: Lynette Webb

This chart compares the reach and time spent for different TV and web properties, for the month of July 2006 among US 12-24 year olds. I think it’s interesting for a number of reasons.



Click image to enlarge.

It demonstrates that the biggest web ‘families’ such as Yahoo! and TimeWarner are already equivalent in terms of their reach & time spent to some of the biggest TV networks. It shows, yet again, that Google has a quite distinctly different profile to the other big online media owners, with similar reach but far less time spent there overall. (This isn’t surprising when you think about the nature of the Google service, but it’s still nice to see it so starkly portrayed).

The chart also suggests that perhaps online video isn’t yet quite as huge as the hype may have led us to believe, and certainly not in the same league as the established TV networks in terms of the classical reach metrics.

This doesn't mean I think online video isn't important. The fact that during just it's first year YouTube has built a reach of around 1/5th of that of the 25 yr old MTV behomoth is pretty darn amazing. (And I'm a big YouTube fan myself). As well, don't forget that watching TV and watching something like YouTube are fundamentally different experiences. You’re far more likely to be paying attention watching YouTube as they’re usually short clips and you have to click to make them play… unlike the telly which is often just companion noise in the background. If you assume, for instance, that probably only 1 in 10 minutes of MTV programming is actually avidly watched with concentration ‘YouTube’ style, then suddenly YouTube and MTV don’t look so far apart. And don’t forget, from an advertising perspective, YouTube and the TV networks are fundamentally different in terms of cost. 🙂

That said, however, to me this suggests that the earlier claim “YouTube now has twice the reach of MTV” may have been a slight exaggeration.… I can’t say for sure because perhaps it was true for the region / age range / segment that they looked at; and also I’m guessing the Comscore YouTube figures don’t necessarily reflect the full extent of YouTube viewing as it misses that which is viewed embedded on other websites. But certainly, based on the above, it’s not a quote I’ll be using again until I have some supporting data for it.


The TV data comes from Nielsen via their Npower system, with big thanks to Madalyn Mako at Carat Insight. Every 12-24 year old who spent at least 6 minutes watching the TV channel during the period 26th June and 30th July 2006 is included. The average minutes watched per month is based on viewing only by those counted as part of the reach.

The web data comes from Comscore for the month of July 2006. The reach % of ALL 12-24 year olds in the US was calculated dividing Comscore estimates for absolute number of visitors by the number of 12-24 year olds from US government estimates via (Comscore reports reach too but only as a % of internet users; I needed to have it as a % total 12-24 year olds so as to be able to compare it to TV). Every 12-24 year old who visits the website at least once during the month is included in the reach, irrelevant of how long they spend there. The figures in Pink are for the family of sites – eg: for Yahoo!, it includes all sites within the Yahoo! family. 

Image from Flickr CC thanks to jaymce.