Who’s Engaging in Social TV?

CRE-Social-TV-Engagement-by-Demographic-Group-Mar2014Roughly 1 in 6 TV primetime TV viewing occasions involve simultaneous social media use, and about half of that activity is related to TV content, according to [pdf] the results of a Council for Research Excellence (CRE) study. The research – based on mobile diaries collected from 1,665 respondents aged 15-54 over a 3-week period – determined that 7.3% of TV viewing occasions could be deemed “socially connected viewing,” where viewers’ simultaneous social activity was directly related to the specific program they were viewing. 

Broken down into demographic groups, the study finds that the most socially engaged were Hispanics, for whom 10.5% of viewing occasions could be deemed “socially connected viewing.” The next-most engaged were 25-34-year-olds (9.6%) and 15-24-year-olds (9.2%), while Asians (4.2%) and 45-54-year-olds (4.4%) were by far the least likely to engage in this activity.

Interestingly, while Twitter is often the first platform to be mentioned in a discussion of social TV, more socially connected viewing occurs on Facebook than Twitter, per the CRE study. Indeed, of the 7.3% of viewing occasions that were deemed “socially connected,” more than twice as many occurred on Facebook (3.8% overall) than on Twitter (1.8%).

The demographics of participants using those networks differed fairly significantly. The average participant using Facebook for a show-related activity while watching the program skewed more female (61%) than the average participant using Twitter (54%). Facebook’s reach also leaned more heavily towards Hispanics (20%) than Twitter (15%).

Those using Twitter, though, skewed younger (56% in the 15-34 bracket) than those using Facebook (47% in that bracket).

While Twitter may take a backseat to Facebook in TV-related interactions, separate newly-released research from FOX, Twitter and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) – reported here by Variety – suggests that Twitter users are highly engaged with TV content. According to that study (methodology note: users were randomly polled on the site), the vast majority of Twitter users have at some point taken an immediate action in response to seeing a tweet about a TV show. Among those who recall seeing TV-related tweets, about three-quarters reported having taken actions such as searching for a show (76%), engaging in a related action on Twitter, such as clicking on a show’s hashtag (78%), and watching TV show content (77%).

A significant proportion of the survey respondents also claimed to have – after being exposed to a tweet about a TV show – made a plan to watch the show in question later (42%), watched episodes online (38%), and changed the channel to watch the show (33%). Those are fairly high figures considering the CRE research finding that few participants decided to watch new (6.8%) or returning (3.3%) shows based on having seen something about the show on social media. That may relate to the Twitter research being limited to those who recalled seeing TV-related tweets. (That’s not necessarily a small audience: some 17.4 million unique authors sent tweets about TV programs between August and October 2013, according to Nielsen.)

Also of note: while the CRE study measured simultaneous activity, many Twitter users surveyed in the Twitter study tweet about TV shows outside of the programs’ air times. So while a majority 72% of TV tweeters do so while watching the live broadcast (no spike during commercials, though), 60% reported tweeting about shows while they’re not watching them and 58% while they’re watching time-shifted content.

Other Findings:

  • While TV specials make up the smallest percentage of genres viewed by participants, the CRE research finds that their viewers are the most likely to be socially connected.
  • Viewers of newly premiering shows are more likely to be socially connected than those watching returning shows.
  • According to the Twitter study, a slight majority 54% of users who recall seeing tweets that mention brands have responded in some way, whether by by tweeting, searching for the brand online, or considering trying the brand mentioned.
  • Almost half – 48% – of respondents claim to be more likely to remember seeing a tweet from a brand after seeing their ad on the TV. Recently, a MarketShare study suggested that TV ads are more effective when paired with paid Twitter advertising than without (see link above).

About the Data: The CRE data is based on 1,665 respondents representative of the US population, aged 15-54. Respondents used a mobile app to report any time they saw, heard or communicated something about primetime TV shows over the course of 21 days. Diary dates: September 16-October 6, 2013. Total of 78,310 diary entries about 1,596 shows.

The Twitter study was fielded by research firm db5, which polled 12,577 randomly invited Twitter users from Jan. 15-27. The participants were surveyed within 24 hours of primetime Twitter activity (the next day, beginning around noon local time).

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