Water-Cooler Effect: Internet Can Be TV’s Friend

BRIAN STELTER NEW YORK TIMES ADVERTISING & MEDIA
Published: February 23, 2010

Remember when the Internet was supposed to kill off television?

This year’s Super Bowl, won by the New Orleans Saints, was the most-watched television program in United States history.

That hasn’t been the case lately, judging by the record television ratings for big-ticket events. The Vancouver Olympics are shaping up to be the most-watched foreign Winter Games since 1994. This year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched program in United States history, beating out the final episode of “M*A*S*H” in 1983. Awards shows like the Grammys are attracting their biggest audiences in years.

Many television executives are crediting the Internet, in part, for the revival.

Blogs and social Web sites like Facebook and Twitter enable an online water-cooler conversation, encouraging people to split their time between the computer screen and the big-screen TV.

The Nielsen Company, which measures television viewership and Web traffic, noticed this month that one in seven people who were watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics opening ceremony were surfing the Web at the same time.

“The Internet is our friend, not our enemy,” said Leslie Moonves, chief executive of the CBS Corporation, which broadcast both the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards this year. “People want to be attached to each other.”

Read the full feature at http://www.nytimes.com

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