The number of viewers that Comedy Central gets on YouTube versus regular TV is staggering

We like to be on our personal devices more than we like to watch TV.

A New York Times Magazine article, “Comedy Central in the Post-TV Era,” takes a closer look at the network and the man behind its recent string of hit shows, Kent Alterman, president of content and original programming at the cable network.

While the article examines the way Comedy Central cultivates talent and is always developing new shows that will hit the ever-changing comedy zeitgeist, one striking section in the piece was the revelation of how out of date the Nielsen ratings system is.

Neilsen is the industry standard in audience measurement of a show. And when it comes to setting advertising prices for shows, the numbers generated by Neilsen set those figures.

GettyImages 476656234Jesse Grant/GettyComedy Central president of content and original programming Kent Alterman.

However, as Alterman explained, the system Comedy Central and many others are held to is not holding up with today’s viewing habits.

He said:

“What we sell is called C3 ratings: how many people watched a show in the first three days, without fast-forwarding through the commercials.”

That rating is so out of date that, according to the Times piece, even Viacom’s chief executive (Comedy Central is under the Viacom umbrella), Philippe Dauman, voiced his frustration about Neilsen to a conference call of reporters last November, in which he said the service had “not caught up to the marketplace.”

The stats* of how we watch Comedy Central’s most popular shows are staggering:

“Inside Amy Schumer” Season 3

YouTube streams:
27 million

Facebook streams: 4.5 million
Hulu streams: 1.2 million
Snapchat streams: 4.2 million
Linear television:
1.4 million
“Roast of Justin Bieber”

YouTube streams:
9.2 million

Facebook streams: 5.3 million
Comedy Central website show stars: 6.1 million
Snapchat streams: 3 million
Linear television:
7 million
“Key & Peele” Season 4A

YouTube streams:
195 million

Facebook streams: 50 million
Hulu streams: 10 million
Video-on-demand plays: 5 million
Linear television:
2 million
“Broad City” Season 2

YouTube streams:
5.7 million

Facebook streams: 2.9 million
Hulu streams: 8.4 million
Snapchat streams: 1.8 million
Linear television:
1.2 million
In the Times story, a Nielsen spokesperson noted that the company has proposed a comprehensive “measurement framework” to account for multiple platforms but that the industry has not yet agreed on a standard.

*According to The Times, stats are made up of total streams of clips on YouTube, Facebook, or Snapchat over the course of a season or show. Hulu streams include episode starts and clips. Linear figures are average per episode. Source: Comedy Central and Nielsen Media Research.

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