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Lunchtime The New Primetime?

January 5th, 2008 · Leave A Comment

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The New York Times has a much discussed article this morning about how web video is conquering the lunchtime break hour.

In some offices, workers coordinate their midday Web-watching schedules, the better to shout out punch lines to one another across rows of desks. Some people gravitate to sites where they can reliably find Webcasts of a certain length — say, a three-minute political wrap-up — to minimize both their mouse clicks and the sandwich crumbs that wind up in the keyboard.

“Go take a walk around your office” at lunchtime, said Alan Wurtzel, head of research for NBC. “Out of 20 people, I’m going to guarantee that 5 are going to be on some sort of site that is not work-related.”

We’ve of course covered using the web as a time waster several times in the past, generally by supporting the trend and alerting you to tasty new ways to consume your favorite tv shows over the internet. We even try to serve up some entertainment of our own.

Not to sound like a know-it-all, but this trend of people doing most of their web surfing at work is something that I’ve noticed for a long time now.

Ever since I started 10 years ago, I noticed that most orders for resume services came in Monday-to-Thursday. The Friday-to-Sunday period is almost dead. This means most people do their job searching at work. Most of our clients come to us during the weekdays between 9am and 4pm.

According to the article, web content producers have noticed this as well, and are now programming for it (such as can be done on the internet):

In 2007, a growing number of local television stations, including WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio, began producing noon programming exclusively for the Web. Among newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., and The Ventura County Star in California started posting videos at lunchtime that have young journalists as hosts and are meant to appeal to 18- to 34-year-old audiences. (…)

“Based on the traffic I’m seeing,” said Miguel Monteverde, executive director of AOL Video, “our nation’s productivity is in question.”

But as much as this is an internet rule of thumb today, I’m not sure this mid-day spike in internet usage will be as pronounced in the coming years. Personally, I think this is only a temporary pattern based on the relative youth of the internet.

After all, until a couple of years ago, the fastest internet connection you could find were at work. At home, most people still used dialup. Thus, any “serious” browsing made more sense at your job.

Plus, viewing web videos is still something much easier and quicker to do on your faster work computer with your office’s better-than-cable internet connection. As tv over ip becomes less of a novelty and content becomes more professional, I think we’ll see web video clips treated less like a joke-to-be-forwarded and more of a program to sit down and give your attention to.

In addition, older folk still take their “prime time” in the traditional way. They sit down after dinner and enjoy their Lost or their 2 and a Half Men in front of a traditional television. But I don’t think this is true of the generations coming up. I’m talking about those kids who live their entire social lives on Facebook and Myspace. All the data tells us that these people don’t watch tv nearly as much… much less watch it in the olden-timey way. Traditional “Prime-Time” hours are more likely to find these kids chatting with their friends online or watching downloaded video on a screen that is smaller and hooked up to the internet, not the broadcast networks.

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Tags: ... Or Hardly Working? · Time Wasters · Workplace Gizmos