It was inevitable. Prime time television had to be caught in the worldwide web too. IPL5's telecast on Set Max was an eye-opener for the broadcaster this year. The viewership number had shrunk drastically from the first edition of the cricket carnival. In fact, the online viewership ofIPL 5rose by 55%, as more and more viewers opted for the live streaming option available on the web to the telly screen viewing option.Keeping the significant viewership chunk in mind, a biz-savvyAamir Khanhas also taken the live streaming option forSatyamev Jayate, his chat show airing currently on Star Plus, DD and other bouquet channels of Star India. In March 2012 ZeeNew Medialaunched the first over-the-top (OTT) TV distribution platform, Ditto TV which will provide video-on-demand and television content to customers using content on mobile, laptops etc. Times Group also has plans to launch BoxTV.com, that will enable viewers to watch latest films and TV shows online.In fact, way back in the 90s, web serials were crafted and designed in the US and UK and streamed online for online viewers. In sync with a super-small screen experience, web serials are short and snappy. Action is quick, can be viewed whenever, wherever, and for free. There are even web serials likeThe Guild(2007), made by NRIs which have achieved 'cult status.In India internet TV is a concept that's catching up now. Daily soaps don't have the live streaming facility, but most top general entertainment channels have websites with HD videos of the episodes of their leading soaps available for free viewing, hours after the actual telecast on TV. The growing breed of online viewers are taken so seriously that even episode nuggets, teasers and future tracks are sometimes first revealed on Facebook and Twitter pages of soaps to create more hype before the show actually airs. Television stars and production houses routinely interact with their cyber fans and share experiences/offer hints of storylines.Producers likeEkta Kapoorinteract with aspiring actors on Facebook account. Ekta has been known to pick up youngsters and offer them lead roles in her show, simply by chatting with them online. Telly hottie Karan Kundra's rise to TV superstardom was facilitated via FB.A significant chunk of online viewers are young audiences based in the US, UK, Middle East etc and routinely follow the trials and tribulations of their telly heartthrobs on the web. Youth based shows have a huge online following. The now defunct Star One had a huge online viewership for its shows,Dill Mill Gayye,Geet Hui Sab Se Parayi,Miley Jab Hum TumandPyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahani. Typically now, shows with a slightly younger appeal, likeIss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon?,Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, Punar Vivah, Dil Dosti Dance, Humse Hai Lifeetc have a bigger online viewership over the regular saas-bahu shows.Youtube, DailyMotion and a slew of other sites upload entire chunks of the shows for free viewing. In single TV households, the remote rests in the hands of the woman who calls the shots, but in the wonderful world of web, there are umpteen hits on replay buttons, and ads-free viewing.It is now up to producers and TV channels to leverage the web viewership to their advantage and generate revenue options too. And who knows in the near future even viewership measurement agencies will consider the online viewers as significant sample bases for TRPs/TVRs. Because, numbers do matter, a lot when it comes to the world of soaps!