September 27, 2002
BROOKE GLADSTONE: The convergence of TV and the internet has been forecast almost from the moment the net was born. Any day now, we were told, there would be one set-top box through which we could access both technologies at the same time. Well the fact is even though we still have two boxes, if they're in the same room, many of us do use them at the same time, but we don't use them the way the forecasters planned --comScore Media Metrix - a company that tallies web usage - found that three quarters of people who are on the computer while they're watching TV are doing things unrelated to the show they're watching. They are chatting with friends, shopping or using the computer for off-line activities. Two boxes in the same room -- very little convergence. Stephen Kim is vice president of comScore Media Metrix, and we wondered what he thought of the findings.
STEPHEN KIM: Yeah, I was surprised that the number was this high.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So getting people to go on line to look up something related to the television program is that sort of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What are some of the attempts to reach that pot of gold?
STEPHEN KIM:Well right now I think the success stories in this arena have been fairly easy to identify. So you've got big events like the Super Bowl, or even big cultural events like Survivor or Big Brother where we have seen people are both looking at the TV show and then going on line to find out more information. We've got some examples of things like Push, Nevada - the new ABC series that's trying to drive people to the on line site related to the TV program. And they're doing it through what has historically been the easiest way to drive traffic on line which is to give away money. There's a contest involved. So, you know, if you have an audience that's really focused on a particular show, that's where we've seen success to date. Where we haven't seen a whole lot of success to date are the examples of people trying to draw internet audiences into longstanding series -comedy series or drama series. That is a tall order.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You haven't mentioned news. You know the CNN site - the MSNBC site - are they in a different category?
STEPHEN KIM:I do put them in a different category, and I think a lot of new out-- news outlets are just confined by the format they're in. You only have a 45 second story or 2 minutes to get a story across. But if you can put a crawl across the screen, or you can make an announcement at the end of the story that says: If you want to hear more about - from this interview - click on KQED.org and you can get the full interview there. In the early days, people were worried: will the internet steal people away from TV and radio news? The opposite is sort of emerging in terms of actually we're learning how to use the two in a complementary way which is just to get more information out to, to consumers.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But for entertainment programming your data are pretty depressing for television programmers.
STEPHEN KIM:You know I, I don't know if it's depressing for programmers. I think it's just -- people need to shift gears a little bit, because the good news here is that there are a lot of people who have the capability of getting on line and watching TV at the same time. So it's really at this point a conversion problem which is a lot less difficult than getting people to move their PC into the same room as the TV.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Okay. I said your data are depressing, but your attitude is very optimistic. But frankly, I'm not buying it. I mean as long as the computer is in the same room as the TV and you can do two things at the same time, and the show that you're watching isn't that compelling -- and that's a decades-long problem -- how are TV programmers suddenly going to come up with a way to drive people where they want them to be on the web?
STEPHEN KIM:I think what these data are saying that's interesting is that maybe the goal needs to shift. Right? Because in a sense that I don't expect and none of us expect people to stop multi-tasking at work, maybe we should expect that people are actually multi-tasking at home and that maybe this is a signal for folks in the programming industry to say rather than try to drive people always to the same content, maybe I should be looking in this as another competitive avenue which is -you know - I know if I am a network that's competing with Friends -- that's a tough audience for me to get them to switch a channel. But during the hours when Friends is broadcast, maybe I should provide compelling internet content that will steal away some of the attention -- knowing that people are inclined to do something unrelated on their PC, this competitive angle may be one that develops alongside people trying to develop convergent use.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Okay. Stephen Kim, thank you very much.
STEPHEN KIM: Thank you.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Stephen Kim is senior vice president of comScore Media Metrix. [MUSIC]