More couch potatoes log on to view shows

More Americans are turning to the Web to watch TV — at least they were as the strike began.

In a study conducted by Canadian research firm Solutions Research Group, nearly 80 million Americans, or 43% of the online population, watched a TV show on the Internet, as of November, up from 25% a year ago.

An additional 20% of American Internet users said they watch TV on the Web on a weekly basis, according to the Digital Life America study conducted quarterly.

Study interviewed 1,150 Americans ages 12 and older in November, timed with the fall sweeps.

“To watch a specific show” was the main reason cited for 21% of all visits to major network websites during the month. ABC.com received the highest user experience score, with 52% rating their overall experience as “excellent,” followed by Fox.com at 44%.

Top shows being viewed included NBC’s “Heroes” and “Chuck;” ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dancing With the Stars” and “Ugly Betty”; CBS’ “CSI”; Fox’s “House” and “Kitchen Nightmares”; and the CW’s “Smallville” and “Gossip Girl.”

Overall, 25% of primetime viewing was time-shifted using a digital video recorder, the Internet or other devices, those surveyed said. Among viewers 18-34, 34% of viewing was time-shifted, and among 18-49, 55% of the top 20 shows were viewed at a later time.

Study gave Madison Avenue some bad news: 65% of those asked say they “always” skip commercials compared with 52% a year ago.

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