Social media buzz appears to have an effect on the TV viewing habits of some US adults, according to a TV Guide survey released in February 2012. 71% of respondents said they have seen a social media impression about a TV show, while 17% have begun to watch a show because of a social impression. Of those, the most popular reasons for beginning to watch the show were because people had good things to say (76%), the topics or storylines were interesting (64%), they like to watch what others watch (13%), and because it sounded controversial (8%).
According to a report released in December 2011 by Knowledge Networks, just 5% of social media users aged 13-54 say that social media is very important to them in deciding whether to watch a new TV program, although an additional 24% say that is it somewhat important.
Data from the TV Guide survey indicates that if not because of social impressions, the most widespread reasons for beginning to watch a TV show are due to ads (80%), word of mouth (46%), and from stumbling upon it by accident (16%), with roughly one-quarter citing other reasons.
Social Impressions Fuel Loyalty, Too
Meanwhile, 31% of respondents have continued to watch a TV show because of a social impression about the show. Among those respondents, the most popular ways in which social impressions influenced them were through helping keep up their interest in the show (77%) and because of topics or storylines that interested them (66%). Roughly one-third were influenced to stay engaged because of controversial moments (34%), and about one-quarter because everyone else was watching the show.
Friends and Family Not So Important, Though
When social impressions are not a driver of TV show loyalty, the main reasons respondents stick with a show is due to great storylines (88%), being deeply invested (81%), and great acting (72%). Although social media buzz appears to be a significant influence for keeping with a show, only about 1 in 10 respondents said that in the absence of social media impressions, family and friends still watching the show was a reason for them to do the same.
Social Spoilers Also a Factor
Social media also appears to have an effect on live TV viewing: 27% of respondents said they watch more live TV because they are concerned about plot and reality spoilers that could be revealed in real time on social networks. This represents a 35% rise from 20% of respondents in 2010 who responded that way. These figures may be correlated to the proportion of adults who actually visit social media sites during primetime: according to the Knowledge Network survey results (see link above), only 19% of respondents said they used social media while watching primetime TV most or every evening.
About the Data: The TV Guide results are based on a survey of 3,041 respondents in February 2012.