According to Google News, 2,756 articles have been written about the CBS announcement last Thursday that Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as the host of the “Late Show” in 2015. Unfortunately for Mahlet Seyoum, an Industry Analyst of Media and Entertainment at Google, last Thursday was also the day she announced that a new report entitled, “The Role of Digital in TV Research, Fanship, and Viewing,” had just been published.

Hey, I’m a big fan of Colbert, too. (Back in 2007, I participated in a Google Bombing campaign that helped rank #1 in Google for the term “giant brass balls until Google tweaked its algorithm.) And the title of the new report doesn’t have the appeal to emotion and gut feeling that “truthiness” has in contemporaneous socio-political discourse. Nevertheless, internet marketers and video content producers may still want to review the evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts in the 12-page report. Among other things, you’ll learn that 90 percent of TV viewers also visit Google and YouTube, signaling the shared audience between both digital and television.

Key Findings from the Report

  • TV related activity is growing on Google and YouTube. Year-over-year, searches have grown by 16 percent on Google and 54 percent on YouTube search. There has also seen a rise in video views, watch time and engagement on YouTube around TV-related content, suggesting that TV viewers are increasingly using these platforms to interact with other fans and engage in a show. In fact, watch time on YouTube for TV-related content has grown 65 percent year-over-year.
  • Mobile and tablet searches are spearheading growth. Year-over-year, searches for TV content on Google and YouTube have increased 100 percent on mobile devices. On smartphones, users are looking for quick bits of information like premiere-date, plot, and cast-related information, and on tablets, users are looking for watch-related information.
  • Activity on Google and YouTube is correlated with tune-in. The report’s analysis of Google searches, YouTube searches, and YouTube video views show positive .72, .74 and .67 correlations with “live plus three day” viewers, respectively.
  • The YouTube “community” actively creates TV-related content. In 2013 for every piece of content uploaded by a show’s network on YouTube in 2013, there were more than seven pieces of community-generated content related to a show. Some fan favorites far exceed that benchmark: Game of Thrones, for example, had 82 community-generated videos per video uploaded by the network and The Vampire Diaries had 69.
  • Subscribers are vital to driving awareness for new content. TV networks have been gaining subscribers for their official YouTube channels at a blistering rate, with an average per channel subscribership increase of 69 percent from the beginning of 2013 to the end of the year. These subscribers are vital to spreading content on YouTube.
  • Catching-up on seasons is on the rise, and drives tune-in. The report found that 70 percent of viewers catch-up on prior episodes before tuning-in to a new season. And this intent appears to be on the rise. Catch-up related searches on Google in the pre-premiere timeframe have grown by 50 percent year-over-year. For people who catch up on past seasons of returning shows, about half will start more than two months in advance. Analyzing behaviors around catch-up are important, since 4 in 5 viewers say they are more likely to tune-in to a season premiere after catching up on prior seasons. 

Oh, and just in case you’re afraid that your right-brain will atrophy while your left brain is absorbing all the evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts in the 12-page report, check out this excerpt:

“Digital platforms are changing the way today’s viewer experiences television. From sharing the new viral Jimmy Kimmel Live video to watching the promo for the premiere of The Walking Dead to searching for the actor who plays the funny cop on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one thing is clear: There are more ways than ever for TV audiences to research, participate in and access television content.”

And for those of you who love charts, there are six of them. That’s right, the report includes half a dozen charts that you can copy and paste into a PowerPoint presentation to give to the “Digital Immigrants” at your company or clients who still control the budgets, but were born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it to some extent later in life. Maybe, this will help them to “get it.”

For example, you might want to show them when TV viewers are searching.

Chart 2

Or, if they are familiar with search terms, then show them what TV viewers are searching for … and when.

Chart 3

If that doesn’t work, then use analogies from the latter part of the 20th century. Tell the “Digital Immigrants” who probably watch Mad Men that Don Draper’s grandchildren are now 18 to 35 years old and are members of a generation that influences $500 billion of spending a year in the U.S. alone. However, today’s TV ecosystem differs greatly from that of the era of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Digital Natives now turn to their laptops, smartphones, and tablets to view trailers and research cast information before tuning-in, to use social media for real-time conversations about their favorite programs, and to binge watch episodes on demand.

If all else fails, then share this anecdote. After CBS announced that Colbert will replace Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallow responded … on YouTube.

Who knows? It could work.