SpongeBob And NBC Top 2012 Social TV Rankings

Spongebob-AThe relentless re-viewings of Nickelodeon’s favorite underwater sponge-brain and massive Olympics viewership helped the SpongeBob Squarepants series and NBC come in first in social TV activity for a single show and a network, respectively, in 2012.

According to metrics service Trendrr in a new blog post, SpongeBob was the subject of over 21.7 million social interactions across Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Viggle during the year. The next-most-buzzed show was Fox’s "The X Factor" (16.6 million) and then NBC’s "The Voice" (11/1 million). "Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family, 104 million) and "The Bad Girls Club" (Oxygen, 9.4 million) rounded out the top five for the year.

Among networks, NBC was far and away the beneficiary of the most social TV activity, with close to 150 million total social actions, according to an extended Trendrr report at NBC's activity was about twice that of nearest contender ABC. But according to Trendrr, ABC would narrowly edge out NBC if Olympics and other special programming activity were removed from the equation. Fox was close behind ABC with more than 70 million total mentions, but CBS trailed at under 60 million for the year.  

While reality programming has the strongest reputation as a driver of social TV activity, overall sports was responsible for 31% of the actions Trendrr measured this year, followed by reality TV (17%), drama (11%), and comedy (5%).

The iPhone was also far and away the most-used smartphone for social TV interactions (52%) trailed by Android (30%) and BlackBerry (18%).

It would be interesting to get more detailed metrics about the timing of social interactions relative to the live airings of shows. One of the problems that continue to burden the second-screen experience is the basic problem of watching and interacting at the same time.

The genres that dominate social TV -- sports and reality programming -- give users the most white space to fill on a second screen without missing much on the first. Drama, by its nature, engages through immersion, tension, etc. It would be interesting to see when and in what forms interactions take place on the second screen for the more immersive genres like drama and comedy compared to sports and reality. It is interesting that SpongeBob is such a second-screen winner. Here is a series that fans re-view endlessly, and so their attention to the first screen is not wholly necessary.

One of the smartest second-screen experiences I have seen, Disney’s iPad accompaniment to its Bambi Blu-ray release, understood the importance of synchronizing the second screen against -- not with -- the first. During the heart-wrenching sequence in which Bambi’s mother gets shot, the stream of second-screen accompaniments slowed to a crawl. The app acknowledged where the viewer’s attention likely would and should be.

I wonder if this type of more precise and intelligent synchronization of the multi-screen experience is the next step for programmers. 

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