Friday, September 29, 2006

The Most Popular TV On The Web
Lacey Rose, 09.29.06, 1:20 PM ET

Last spring, Disney-owned ABC made headlines when it announced it would stream four of its programs--including hits Desperate Housewives and Lost--free on its Web site. The move earned the network plenty of attention, and a lot of complaints from the network’s local affiliates, who feared viewers would no longer watch their programs on television.

As the fall seasons take off, the remaining three networks have followed suit, each offering a host of free, advertising-supported shows online. Many shows are also available for sale at Web outlets like Apple Computer's iTunes or Google Video.

But the fretters can rest easy, because the online option doesn’t seem to be cannibalizing television--at least not yet, anyway. Data from online media measurement firm Big Champagne indicate that the most swapped shows on traditional peer-to-peer and BitTorrent networks tend to also be among the highest rated when aired on TV.

CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, for instance, were popular on both mediums. CSI ranked second on the Web and third on TV, while Grey’s topped the TV list and landed third on the Web list.

That said, couch potatoes and Web heads don't always have the same taste. Fox's Prison Break hasn't made much impact on the News Corp.-owned TV network yet--it was the 60th most popular show on television last week. But it has consistently been one of the most-swapped shows on the Web.

Show Network Most Swapped
Shows This Week*
Most Swapped
Shows Last Week**
Most Watched
Shows This Week***
House FOX 1 1 21
CSI CBS 2 2 3
Grey's Anatomy ABC 3 5 1
Bones FOX 4 4 60
Prison Break FOX 5 3 47
Without A Trace CBS 6 6 6
Desperate Housewives ABC 7 11 2
CSI: Miami CBS 8 7 5
The Daily Show Comedy Central 9 8 Not available
Family Guy FOX 10 9 46
Source: BigChampagne, Nielsen Media Research.

*Ranking for week Ending Sept. 26, 2006

**Ranking for week Ending Sept. 19, 2006