Almost half (46%) of TV viewers surveyed in a new poll from Yahoo! TV And Entertainment Weekly of 2,000 people say they check email while watching the tube, second only to snacking (56%). In fact the need to use digital channels to communicate with others during TV watching is pretty much epidemic at this point, with 34% posting to Facebook, 28% texting to friends and family and 7% checking other people's online posts about a show.
The synergy across screens is becoming a central concern to TV programmers as both smartphones and tablets become de facto second screens in the prime time experience. Cable companies like BravoTV and ABC are issuing apps that work in tandem with on-screen programming. Third party entertainment check-ins like Getglue try to use foursquare like badges to award brand loyalists. And not coincidentally Yahoo! Itself has gotten into the game with its recent acquisition of IntoNow, which actually can detect what you are watching in order to facilitate connections among fellow viewers. The portal company is chattering a lot lately about the TV-to-mobile connection.
But in this emerging loop across screens, are some shows more socially infectious than others? According to this survey, the premium marquee series seem to attract more digital exchanges than even more reality/competition programs. When asked which shows they are most likely to Tweet or post about to their Facebook pages, HBO's True Blood and Showtime's Dexter led the field. In fact, interestingly, network programming (Glee, The Bachelor, Survivor) only occupies the bottom three of the top ten.
Most Likely to Tweet/Post to Facebook While Watching Shows
1. True Blood (29%)
2. Dexter (29%)
3. Vampire Diaries (24%)
4. Game of Thrones (23%)
5. The Walking Dead (23%)
6. Sons of Anarchy (22%)
7. Mad Men (22%)
8. The Bachelor (21%)
9. Survivor (21%)
10. Glee 21%)
The survey was not even skewed to TV-aholics. Yahoo and EW partnered with Ipsos OTX MediaCT to survey 2,000 people who watch at least an hour a day of TV in a group designed to model the U.S. population. This same group ranked X-Factor, Charlie's Angels and Prime Suspect as the top three new shows they are most excited about seeing.
Yahoo! TV has posted broader results about viewer buzz for the new season at its site.
All of which raises the question whether social media and mobile connectivity add a new metric to TV programming - a "T" (for Tweet) rating or "S" (for Social) quotient. In creating new programming will we start asking what its viral potential is, its ability to generate real-time social interactions on other screens?You can hear the network executive phone chatter now. "It was a dog in the overnights, but that new Mad Men knock off about life at a Hoboken direct mail agency during the Cuban Missile Crisis, ‘Third Class' has a killer Twitter quotient."