Viacom Study Reveals Major Interest in “Social TV”

Have you ever heard of the "lean back" connected TV experience? It is the idea that most TV watchers don't want to have to do anything while they're watching TV, so digital and interactive elements should be minimalist enough so that a viewer can continue to lean back and relax while consuming this new flow of information. Well, a study by Viacom related to social TV called "Viewers C's the Moment" has revealed that there may be a shift from a "lean-back to a lean-forward experience." The study showed that viewers engage in an average of seven types of social TV activities.

Have you ever heard of the “lean back” connected TV experience?  It is the idea that most TV watchers don’t want to have to do anything while they’re watching TV, so digital and interactive elements should be minimalist enough so that a viewer can continue to lean back and relax while consuming this new flow of information.  Well, a study by Viacom related to social TV called “Viewers C’s the Moment” has revealed that there may be a shift from a “lean-back to a lean-forward experience.”  The study showed that viewers engage in an average of seven types of social TV activities.


The study looked at “24 ethnographies in Boston and San Diego with VMN viewers aged 13-52 that engage in social TV activities on at least a weekly basis,” and when asked what social TV means to them, the top answers were “interactive”, “friends”, “Facebook” and “Twitter”.  Clearly, Facebook and Twitter lead the pack when it comes to discussing TV with friends.

The study looked at three main areas: communicating, consuming content and checking comments.

So how do people communicate as they watch Social TV?  In all sorts of ways.  One user reported that “”When I’m watching Jersey Shore, I have Facebook chats with 10 friends and I’m texting a dozen people, and I can be on the phone to my best friend.”  That said, 56% of people surprisingly reported that they prefer communicating with others through the social TV app, that is, they look for an app related to show and chat with people through that.  53% use Facebook to talk with their friends, and others use phone text messaging or Skype or FaceTime.  Some users check in to the shows, as a method of encouraging others to watch.

While tablets are hot, only 18% of respondents were using tablets for Social TV apps.  82% used their Smartphones to connect with the apps.

What do people want on their Social TV apps?  88% said they want full-length episodes, 75% said they want teasers of new episodes, 71% said they want behind-the-scenes extras and highlight clips.  Otherwise, users are looking for rewards such as digital goods with cast signatures or games that reward you with cool images/content.

Finally, the study looked at comments.  Social TV users check comments to look for a different point of view on the show and also love to connect with the stars and writers’ posts and ideas.  The number one source of desired comments are from cast and crew.  They also love seeing posts from the show characters themselves.

Read more about the study here and let us know what you think — are you a lean back or lean forward type of viewer?

The most common activities that a social TV watcher engage in are watching TV with others, searching for supplemental content online and viewing TV show clips on social networks.  This means that most users are looking for more information about a show as or after they watch, whether it be on IMDB or looking for a related YouTube clip.