Who’s Engaging in Social TV?

by MarketingCharts staff

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).