The big four internet sweeps. Yeesh!

Here we have a report from the web traffic gurus at Hitwise that shows NBC.com winning the May internet sweeps. That’s right. Hitwise has carved out a market for visitors to the “big four” network websites, presumably because the networks want this information. So NBC “won” with 43.45% of the visits (“up 100% over May 2005” — WTF?) compared with ABC’s 27.14%, CBS’s 20.75%, and Fox’s 8.67%.

While these numbers are interesting (they’re the opposite of the “real” broadcast ratings), this way of viewing the web is foolish and self-destructive. It assumes that isolating these four web properties actually matters, but all that it does is bring a dangerous artificiality to the reality of what’s taking place in the media world. NBC.com’s online competition, for example, isn’t the other three networks; it’s Google and Yahoo and eBay and Amazon and a ton of blog networks and other sites competing for the same eyeballs, including newspapers. If the big four networks are satisfied to only duke it out amongst themselves online, well, we’ve got a whole lot bigger problem than we thought.

Broadcasters, it would seem, are going to cling to their world no matter what, while the innovative disruptions attacking them from all sides continue unabated.

I’m reminded of Wile E. Coyote.

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