TelevisionWeek is trawling video-sharing Web sites to find the hottest clips spreading on the Internet.
The setup: Internet video clips related to the death of Australian crocodile hunter Steve Irwin generated more than 4.4 million views online by Sept. 7, marking a first “prime-time” event for viral video. Those numbers would have placed the overall consumption of Steve Irwin videos online second behind the No. 1 rated broadcast program in the 18 to 49 demographic for the week ending Sept. 3, which was “Prison Break” with 5.2 million viewers. Those online views easily trumped MTV’s “Video Music Awards,” which took the top cable spot with 3.4 million viewers in that demo. But, comparing viral video consumption to TV viewing is tough because Internet users can catch viral video any time of the day while TV viewers still must either watch at an appointed hour or set their DVRs to record. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of clips posted and produced by average people demonstrates both the growing interconnections between the television and online worlds and also the myriad ways in which online video can capture the interest of the consumer.
The source: Steve Irwin fans posted reports from CNN and ABC, an ESPN commercial and their own mash-ups and tributes set to such tunes as “Memory” on various video-sharing sites.
The hits: News clips and tributes generated more than 1 million views on Break, 2.5 million on MSN Video and 950,000 on YouTube. An iFilm clip from Mr. Irwin’s ESPN commercial garnered 50,000 views.
VIDEO: Croc Hunter