Social Media Drives TV Watching

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.”

3 comments about "Social Media Drives TV Watching".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, February 27, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.

    I am pretty sure that a recent study showed no correlation between positive Social Media Chatter and ratings. It seems just like with all Social Media, 85% of content/chatter is being done by 15% of the users.

  2. Claudio Marcus from FreeWheel, March 1, 2012 at 7:18 p.m.

    While the headline of the article is "Social Media Drives TV Watching", the reported data indicates that TV ads are an even bigger driver of influence in starting to watch a show (80% for TV ads vs. 17% for social impressions). Perhaps "TV advertising works better than social media" (even though they are likely quite complimentary) would have been a more accurate eye-catching headline.

  3. Augustine Fou from Marketing Science Consulting Group, Inc., April 27, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.

    Claudio, of course TV ads will drive more TV watching... NBC does a great job cross promoting their own shows. Social media can be thought of as layering on top of that -- where users engage with each other to talk about the TV show (NOT the ads, mind you).

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