How TV and Social Media Audiences Intersect

Television viewers are most engaged with shows via social media when on a mobile device, using the website or mobile app.

television and social media

Twitter and Facebook make a lot of noise about their respective share of the TV audience. New research from The Council for Research Excellence may lower the networks’ prestige in the field, because it’s pretty clear that the social networks are not as influential as they might like to think. At least not in all areas.

According to the report, only 19 percent of online Americans between 15- to 54-years-old encounter mentions of primetime programming at least once per day. The metric was wide — it referred to content people might just stumble upon, and not necessarily content they engage with or post themselves. Sixteen percent of “viewing experiences” for primetime television involve interacting with social media while viewing. Users are only engaging on social networks with the shows they’re actively watching 7.3 percent of the time.

Facebook fares better than Twitter, drawing users to the second screen 11.4 percent of the time, while Twitter draws them only 3.3 percent of the time. However, Twitter wins when it comes to socially-engaged viewers as a percentage of primetime television viewers overall, beating Facebook 55 percent to 33 percent, the study says.

While these numbers may seem paltry, social networks are making gains when it comes to streamed viewing and television events, such as the Olympics and Super Bowl. Because of social media mentions and hype, users binge-watch shows by taking advantage of online viewing tools.

Indeed, the study indicates that viewing a program via website or channel app indexed at 152, on-demand at 137, and viewing multiple episodes indexed at 146. Watching the latest episode indexed at just 104. Social media is a huge boost when it comes to mobile viewing. Socially-connected viewers index 287 for tablets and 241 for smartphones, among all screens viewed.

The study concludes that television is still the leader for viewing methods. However, the results also suggest that social users are much more interested in watching primetime content on their own terms as streaming technology improves.

While the data may show that Facebook and Twitter aren’t as important to TV viewing as once thought, they have substantial impact on the online viewing experience. After all, the second season of House of Cards got 350,000 tweets in its first day on Netflix. Social media and streaming are poised to generate big gains for one another, as viewers use both simultaneously.