Typing Faster

February 10, 2010

Should Cable Be Thanking Hulu?

Filed under: Future of TV, Hulu, Stuff I Like — petertypingfaster @ 12:18 pm

Interesting blurb on Forbes’ The Biz Blog that asks a strange question.

Has the recent success of cable channels resulted from the popularity of Hulu?

The explosive growth of online video was supposed to be a cable killer, right? Hulu clocked 1 billion video streams in December–a first. YouTube fans watched 13 billion videos over the same period, notes comScore. Yet the only heat cable TV is feeling, strangely enough, comes from its own ratings, which caught fire last month.

In January A&E, Oxygen, TruTV, Nickelodeon and HGTV all clinched record viewership. ESPN delivered 5 of the 10 most watched cable shows. Fox News Channel drew its largest audience since the last Presidential election. Counterintuitive? Not to Forrester media analyst James McQuivey.

Rather than yanking viewers from cable, he says, “Hulu’s effect is to remind people how much they love television.” The average viewer now watches online video 2 hours a week, he says. But they also watch 3.5 hours more television than they did 5 years ago. That bounce favors niche channels, says McQuivey. “These days, if you like watching television, chances are you’re watching cable.”

It’s an interesting thought, albeit one that’s hard to prove. My guess is that there’s probably a lot of currency to it. Streaming video doesn’t seem to be replacing TV, at least not for the average consumer, but it is serving as a way to supplement what viewers are watching.

If they see something they like online, they’re more likely to check it out during its regular broadcasting.

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