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If the impact of the writers strike is extending even to the broadcasters’ online homes, NBC.com didn’t feel any pain in December.
The Peacock’s online counterpart scored 8.4 million unique visitors, up 12% from November. That was enough to top ABC.com, which took a significant tumble, dropping 35% to 7.3 million. Dot-coms for CBS Television and Fox Broadcasting also posted losses of more than 20% month-over-month.
Vivi Zigler, executive vp digital entertainment at NBC, said the primetime game show “Deal or No Deal” was the biggest driver of traffic to the site in December and noted that this trend bodes well if the strike continues.
“Right now we’re in fairly good shape,” Zigler said. “It could change if the strike goes on forever.”
NBC saw strong premieres for its nonscripted shows “American Gladiator” and “The Biggest Loser,” and the Web presence of the programs could help assuage the loss of such shows as “Heroes” and “The Office.”
Zigler added that because networks traditionally go to repeats in December, it’s still hard to judge the effect of the strike on Web programming.
That could explain the December tumble for ABC.com, which beat its broadcast rivals eight out of the past 11 months in Internet traffic. The network didn’t introduce much new programming in December, hence the lackluster return online.
In the future, though, judging a network’s presence online will be even more complicated as each network builds out its own syndication strategies and partnerships with various portals. Bill Bradford, senior vp content strategy at Fox, said that the Nielsen numbers are one gauge, but he looks at the broader picture when evaluating his network’s Web presence.
“We have really been focusing on not necessarily trying to drive traffic to Fox.com but getting it out to consumers wherever they happen to be,” he said.
In this way, Bradford and Zigler are unlikely allies as NBC Uni and News Corp., Fox’s parent company, are both pinning much of their online hopes on Hulu, their joint online venture video site.
Nielsen Online is owned by the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.
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