Lunch is new prime time for watching network TV online

Nielsen study finds men prefer consumer-generated video and women gravitate to online TV.

The most popular hours for watching network TV video online falls between noon and 2pm, and women are nearly twice as likely as men to be watching the video streams, according to a new type of study released by Nielsen Online.

Women between 18-34 accounted for 22 per cent of the time spent watching video streams available on network TV sites like ABC.com and NBC.com in December, according to VideoCensus, a new syndicated online measurement service from Nielsen that combines research from panels of users and server-based measurement. Men ages 18-34 accounted for 12 per cent of the online TV traffic, the study found.

Meanwhile, Nielsen said men between 18-24 were more than two and half times more likely than women to have viewed video streams shown at top four consumer-generated media Web sites, including YouTube and MySpace. In addition, while women were logging onto the network sites during the lunch hour, the most popular time for watching the consumer sites was 11pm and 6am on weekends, VideoCensus noted.

"Network Web sites are destinations for fans to deepen their experience -- they go to see favorite scenes, episodes and outtakes," said Michael Pond, media analyst at Nielsen Online, in a statement. "These viewers are very loyal and engaged, and the Web site is a place to become immersed in the program. With shorter clips and a viral nature, consumer-generated Web sites are much more about discovery, and consumers are likely to view content on more than one."

In December, 116.7 million unique viewers, or 73 per cent of active Web users, watched approximately 6.2 billion video streams, VideoCensus found. The average viewer spent nearly two hours and 10 minutes watching online video content during December.

The survey found that most popular video site in December was YouTube with 2.6 billion streams during the month, followed by Yahoo with 371.9 million streams and Fox Interactive Media with 364.1 million streams.

Turner Broadcasting System has been debating the accuracy of user panels and servers for years, noted Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at TBS. VideoCensus' measurement technique ends the debate about the accuracy of the volume of TBS videos being watched online, he added.

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