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With many TV show episodes being put online for all of the internet to view, more traditional media outlets like traditional television have been feeling the pinch. As more users adjust to being able to watch their shows whenever they have a chance rather than when a new episodes airs on ABC,NBC, etc. has resulted in ratings that are increasingly scary for TV networks. Mainstream broadcasters may have to come to terms with internet media or begin to suffer the same fate as the newspaper industry, which has seen declining subscribers for years.

Earlier this year, the February sweeps were down by a large margin. On average networks faced a mark that was 10% down from last year in total viewers, as well as a larger drop in one of the most lucrative demographics, viewers from 18-49 years old, which dropped about 17% on average. Shows that are usually consistent performers such as The Simpsons and Deal or No Deal have all seen ratings drops as more and more viewers switch to online options.

Sweeps are an important part of determining ad rates for TV stations, so lower viewership at such a crucial time means that ad buyers will begin to look elsewhere for their marketing budgets. In some cases advertisers are switching to online outlets like Youtube to spend their money. With young viewers switching over to internet media in record rates, there could be a bigger push by traditional TV networks to make their switch online.

In fact, many already have. Networks like ABC and NBC and even Fox have begun to release their shows online. In some cases they even add special “webisodes” that are available exclusively to online users. Shows like Lost and Heroes have garnered wider audiences by releasing the newest episodes online, while removing earlier episodes in order to support DVD releases of the show. I’d expect that we’ll see a much larger audience for TV online, and many viewers have suggested that they’re ready for internet television on their own terms.

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