The Internet has emerged as a resource and conduit of generally useful and enlightening information. Sometimes, though, the information takes the form of urban legend-type myths. (Remember the one about Bill Gates' plan to charge everyone for e-mail messages?) Ironically, in addition to occasionally being the conduit for a rumor, the Internet itself is the victim of some misconceptions and myths — surprising, perhaps, for a medium in its relative infancy.
One area in which myths exist is that of online entertainment viewership. Let's look at some of these myths and the realities we have discovered at Mondo Media that cut them down faster than an alligator can swim through the New York City sewers.
Myth. Teen-age boys with part-time — or no — jobs are the primary watchers of online entertainment.
Reality. Male and female adults are by far the largest consumers of online entertainment, constituting 91 percent of viewership. The 2-17 demographic represents only 9 percent of viewers. Some examples: An analysis of visitors to the entertainment sections of Netscape, AtomShockwave and other sites that feature Mondo Media's Mini Shows revealed that adults ages 25 to 49 make up 62 percent of the audience; adults ages 18 to 34 comprise 37 percent; 47 percent have annual household incomes of $60,000-plus; 19 percent have annual household incomes of $100,000-plus. (Source: proprietary analysis conducted by Jupiter Media Metrix, New York, for Mondo Media in April 2001.)
A similar study conducted for Mondo Media by Greenfield Online, Wilton, CT, showed that just more than 89 percent of the entertainment sites' audiences were 18 years old-plus and that the largest single segment of viewers was men ages 18 to 34.
Myth. Women use the Internet almost exclusively for utility purposes.
Reality. Nearly one-third of female Internet users have visited music sites; 20 percent have viewed videos; 28 percent have played action or fantasy games; and 17 percent have used sports sites (source: Jupiter Media Metrix). Mondo Media's animated mini shows attracted an audience of 36 percent women, 63 percent of whom were ages 18 to 44 (source: Greenfield Online).
Myth. People usually watch online entertainment from work because they have faster Internet connections.
Reality. Sixty-seven percent of Mondo Media viewers access the content from home (source: Greenfield Online). As an aside, it might be that Instant Messenger is the real productivity killer at work. According to a Jupiter Media Metrix study of 60,000 U.S. Internet users, workers with AOL Instant Messenger spent an average of six hours and 20 minutes per month with the service while on the job.
Myth. Men's online entertainment choices consist primarily of pornography.
Reality. We do not really know how much time guys are spending with pornography on the Internet. But while pornography and the Internet have become somewhat synonymous in many people's minds, large numbers of men are using the Internet for non-porn-related entertainment. Males are, by far, the largest audience viewing four of Mondo's most popular shows, outnumbering females nearly 2-to-1, according to Greenfield Online. Sixty-six percent of these males are ages 18 to 44.
Myth. The college-age audience is the most coveted demo because of the opportunity to generate a lifetime of brand loyalty.
Reality. There is no dispute as to the value of this demo, but there is a flip side in that the demo is very price-sensitive and, by definition, tends to change postal and e-mail addresses frequently.
At the same time, baby boomers' online usage is increasing rapidly — rising 33 percent from 1999 to 2000, according to Jupiter Media Metrix — and they are big consumers and online spenders. While the college-age audience is important, the Internet's relative newness as a medium sometimes makes it easy to ignore the baby boomer generation that is fueling so much of the Web's growth.
Perhaps because it is so new and growing so quickly relative to other media, the Internet is subject to unfair pigeonholing from people looking to define it with short labels. Many times, though, the facts paint a different story.