Everyone knows that the “screens” (TV, laptop, mobile device, another mobile device) are colliding and overlapping, but how exactly do online behaviors and TV viewing interact? TV Guide took a whack at understanding the relationship between social media buzz and TV watching with a new survey of 3,041 U.S. adults, and found that social media buzz does indeed help drive TV watching.
Overall 71% of respondents reported having seen social impressions about TV shows, meaning any kind of mention in social media, covering a broad range of venues including the usual suspects like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and so on. Meanwhile 17% of respondents said they have started to watch a show because of a social impression, and 31% said they’ve continued to watch a show because of a social impression.
Among those influenced to start watching a show by a social media impression, 76% said they were prompted to start watching by positive comments about the show, 64% cited social media buzz about topics or storylines that interested them, and 13% said “I like to watch what others watch.” Among those influenced to continue watching a show by social media, 77% said it helped keep up their interest in shows, 66% said the topics or storylines discussed on social media were interesting, and 34% said social buzz around controversial moments helped keep them engaged.
For comparison’s sake, among those who haven’t been influenced by social media to start watching a show, 80% cited TV ads and 46% cited word of mouth as reasons they start watching shows.
Interestingly, the survey found that social media influence on TV watching can take some unexpected forms. For example, 27% of respondents said they’ve begun watching more live TV because of plot spoilers revealed on social media -- up from 20% in 2010. I’ll call this the “social media spoiler aversion effect.”