US Consumers Seen Behind the Curve in Live Social Chatter About TV

Motorola-Social-Conversations-About-TV-Mar2013Nielsen has just released a study detailing a correlation between Twitter buzz and TV ratings, but how many Americans follow social conversations related to TV content? According to one survey, from Motorola Mobility, the US lags developing countries such as China, Turkey, and the UAE in this practice. The survey found that across 12 countries examined, an average of 43% of respondents reported following social media conversations about a TV program on a companion mobile device while watching the program. But in the US, the average was 23%.

What’s more, the survey found that the proportion of US respondents who reported following social media conversations about TV programs had actually declined from 2010, when the percentage stood at 32%. That’s a surprising result, to say the least.

Nevertheless, the study finds that consumers in developing countries are far more likely to follow such conversations than those in developed nations. 30% of developing country respondents reported passively following (following without commenting) social media conversations about TV on a mobile device while a program aired, compared to 17% of developed country respondents. The gap was even larger when it came to active participation: 27% of developing country respondents reported that they comment as they watch the program, compared to 10% of developed country respondents.

Some of the gaps may be related to device adoption among the survey sample. For example, respondents in China, Korea, and the UAE (the countries with the highest levels of social TV activity) reported the highest rates of smartphone ownership (70%, 85%, and 67%, respectively), significantly ahead of the US (52%). Tablet adoption was also higher among respondents in China (36%) and UAE (41%) than in the US (27%), though Korea (20%) was behind in this regard.

As might be expected, on a global basis, youth were the most likely to report engaging in social conversations on a companion mobile device about a TV program they were watching:

  • 60% of 16-24-year-old respondents;
  • 55% of 25-34-year-olds;
  • 46% of 35-44-year-olds;
  • 37% of 45-54-year-olds;
  • 28% of 55-64-year-olds; and
  • 26% of those 65 and older.

Overall, 38% of consumers surveyed said they had used a social network to recommend a TV program to someone. That made social networks the most popular recommendation engine, ahead of verbal communication (34%), email (31%), Text/SMS (25%), instant messaging (18%), and Twitter (17%). That Twitter appears at the end of the list is again somewhat surprising, but could be due to the site being used more to discuss than recommend shows.

About the Data: Motorola’s Media Engagement Barometer is a research project looking into the video consumption habits of 9,500 consumers across 17 markets: UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Turkey, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, India, Japan and China. The research was conducted on behalf of Motorola by independent agency, Vanson Bourne. The countries not included in the discussion about social TV are: Mexico; Brazil; Argentina; Malaysia; and India.

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