Lost on the web: Does web distribution stimulate or depress television viewing?

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45 Scopus citations


In the past few years, YouTube and other sites for sharing video files over the Internet have vaulted from obscurity to places of centrality in the media landscape. The files available at YouTube include a mix of user-generated video and clips from network television shows. Networks fear that availability of their clips on YouTube will depress television viewing. But unauthorized clips are also free advertising for television shows. As YouTube has grown quickly, major networks have responded by making their content available at their own sites. This paper examines the effects of authorized and unauthorized web distribution on television viewing between 2005 and 2007 using a survey of Penn students on their tendencies to watch television series on television as well as on the web. The results provide a glimpse of the way young, Internet-connected people use YouTube and related sites. While I find some evidence of substitution of web viewing for conventional television viewing, time spent on viewing programming on the web - 6.8 h per week - far exceeds the reduction in weekly traditional television viewing of about 7 min. Perhaps more important, overall time spent on network-controlled viewing (television plus network web sites) increased by 3.7 h per week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalInformation Economics and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Intellectual property
  • Piracy
  • Video
  • Web distribution


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