Does TV Benefit From Less Social Media Sharing?

Less news being shared on social media? Does that mean less digital advertising dollars, and in turn, more for traditional TV platforms? Not necessarily.

After Facebook rolled out a new advertising system designed to intercept “fake” news content, MIT Sloan economist Catherine Tucker and Occidental College’s Lesley Chiou found a 75% reduction in the amount of fake news being shared on the site.



At the same time, we hear constant reports that Facebook's advertising growth is slowing. Perhaps it won’t see those near 40% ad revenue gains. For example, in the third quarter 2018, ad revenue grew 33% to $13.5 billion. The key here is sharing here -- which can boost numbers.

Linear TV consumption doesn’t have the same tools to leverage more viewing -- although many traditional TV networks do have their own websites.

Still, at the same time, traditional TV news viewing has seen growth in revenue over the last two years -- especially at the three big 24/7 cable TV news networks: Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. Those networks have also seen generally steady -- if not rising -- viewership.

Local TV stations maintain that their local content news gathering is still way ahead of anything local independent digital TV media can offer. All that suggests the traditional TV platforms -- national and local TV news outlets -- should be able to capitalize on fewer ad-related “sharing” social-media efforts.

Trouble is, there is no exclusive national TV/national news social-media platform where traditional news organizations can see specific results. So this can be a complex picture.

Facebook has also been key when it comes to promoting -- and sharing -- traditional TV-derived news content. All that muddies up the real from the fake, and everything in between.

The researchers note: “A small fraction of [social media] authors account for a large majority of posts, which reinforces the concern that social media allows an individual to reach a wide audience and share information without editorial or fact-checking input.”

Well, the last point is well-documented. Does the average citizen with a smartphone and Facebook account have the resources, time and patience to filter what is real?

No way. Many consumers might still question the veracity of traditional media content. But will they do the work to check stuff out? Maybe there will be some movement in this direction. Truth and facts can win out -- online, offline, or ahead of the line. Just not over-the-line.

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