YouTube is from Mars, Network TV is from Venus

[Peter Suderman]

More fodder for the gender wars: A new Nielson survey of online video viewing habits shows a substantial gap in viewing patterns between men and women.

The big broadcast networks are failing to effectively reach 18- to-34-year-old men online, according to fresh analysis from Nielsen Online's new video measurement service, VideoCensus.

Indeed, video streams at network TV sites were nearly two times more likely to be viewed by women ages 18-34 than men, who accounted for 22% and 12% of streams, respectively.

I'm not sure I can come up with a solid explanation for the discrepancy. My first thought was that maybe men watch more video from the office and are thus more prone to watching shorter clipsfiller between projects or quick breaks from whatever they're working on. But hourly viewing patterns suggest otherwise. The most popular period for viewing network TV offerings online is the lunch hour12 p.m. to 2 p.m. User generated clips are most viewed in the wee hours of the night, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. This would seem to indicate that user-generated content is not being used primarily to kill time at the office. So the mystery remains.
Personally, I'm skeptical that online offerings of network television programming will really take off until they can be effectively merged with TV (Michael Hirschorn makes this case at length in the March Atlantic). Instead, the shift that most interests meor at least the one that's had the most significant effectis the rise of easy portable video. I picked up an iPod touch last fall and have found that it's a nearly perfect device for watching my favorite shows. It fills in the gapsdowntime spent on trains, in waiting areas, or fighting with one of the many infuriating machines at the gymquite nicely. Shows like 24 and Gossip Girl, which require only minimal attention, make perfect midday distractions. And the best part is, you never have to feel guilty about "wasting time" watching lowbrow television. Instead of carving out an hour or two in the evening, you can take care of it during the free minutes scattered throughout your day.