Primetime extending into online

Evening TV viewers turning to network sites for content, extras

With broadband reaching critical mass in U.S. homes, broadcast network Web sites are seeing an increase in time that users spend on their sites during the weekday primetime hours, according to a new Nielsen//NetRatings report.

NBC.com saw 39.6% of its traffic during weekday primetime hours in February, the largest such proportion of all sites tracked. ABC Primetime and Fox Broadcasting rank second and third, respectively, in this metric at 29.6% and 26%. CBS Television's portal is 10th, behind such other TV-related sites as TV Guide Online and Yahoo! TV, with 21.3% of its traffic during primetime in February, the most recent frame for which data was available.

"We're certainly aware of it," said Vivi Zigler, executive vp digital entertainment and new media at NBC. "The reason primetime was created is because that's when people are there to consume. That's the time when most people are home from work and have free time, and this is exactly the same pattern."

Zigler said that much of its primetime traffic is because of users streaming primetime shows the night after they first aired or visitors logging on to the site after shows have ended to check out Web-only features. NBC.com sees its highest numbers Tuesday nights after "Heroes," a high-rated Monday night offering, and "Deal or No Deal" drives visitors to the site's game connected to the show on nights when it airs.

Zigler said NBC was only made aware of this trend three months ago. She said that before broadband proliferation at home, weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. saw the highest traffic numbers, when people used their high-speed connections at work.

Nielsen//NetRatings is owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.
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