Could Social Networking Bolster the 30-sec. Spot?


For years, it has been assumed that home internet usage would cannibalize live television viewing, but there’s something interesting happening between social networking and live television. Could it be that what Pete Blackshaw termed “telecommunities”--people simultaneously watching live television programs and chatting in real time with an online network of like-minded fans--will gain scale and give consumers a reason to stick with live viewing?

Let’s look at what happened during the Oscars.

During this year’s broadcast, we used Nielsen’s “Convergence Panel”--a sample of homes in which we measure both television and Internet in the same households--to monitor the people in our panel who were simultaneously following the Oscars on live television and over the Internet. We saw some very impressive numbers. Of course, it’s important to note that the base sizes for this research are small--in the dozens of users, not the hundreds--so we can’t draw truly scientific conclusions from the data.  That said, we did observe some interesting directional trends:

•    More than 1 in 10 people (11%) watching the Oscars this year did so while logged onto the Internet.  This is nearly four times greater than the normal rate of simultaneous usage we observe.
•    While there was some expected surfing to places like IMDB for more information on movies, the true winner of the night was Facebook.
•    People who used Facebook during the broadcast used it for an average of 76 minutes.  This compares to a little more than 30 minutes on average for MySpace, and just a little more than 20 minutes for the major portals.
•    People who used Facebook while watching the Oscars watched about 50% more of the broadcast than the average Oscar viewer.

Additionally, we estimate that more than 100,000 messages were sent via Twitter during the broadcast--that’s more than 400 message per minute, or nearly 7 per second.

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