Much has been made of Twitter’s impact on television – and vice versa – but a new study has suggested that the vast majority of people don’t use social media whilst watching TV, and those that do usually aren’t tweeting about what they’re watching.
Nielsen surveyed U.S. internet users on their TV/social habits and found that more than eight in 10 (83.9 percent) did not use social media whilst watching television. Moreover, of those that did use social whilst watching their favourite shows, just 7.3 percent were chatting about the program being watched.
Some thoughts on this, and you’ll excuse me if they’re somewhat anecdotal. I often use an iPad whilst watching TV, but it’s usually just to look up something about the show, rather than using social media sites to chat about the show itself. So, for example, while you’ll often find me saying, “I know that guy from somewhere!” and then looking the actor up on IMDb, I never, ever live-tweet about any tv show. Ever.
This is essentially because I rarely watch TV live, but typically on demand, which is a very important, growing trend and one that is, by definition, absolutely opposed to live-tweeting, as live-tweeting about a show that you’re watching a week later ranges somewhere between pointless and dull. And while a healthy chunk of people do like to live-tweet stuff, I think it’s far from the norm – most users don’t even tweet, after all, so they’re hardly going to make an exception for TV – so these findings don’t surprise me in the slightest.
Your mileage (and experience) might vary, and I’m sure you’ve seen people live-tweeting TV shows in your Twitter network from time to time, or even on a daily basis, but my guess is it’s the same vocal people who tweet constantly about a lot of things, and very illusionary. Twitter has this unfortunate habit of making loud people seem like what they’re doing is significant, when the only thing of significance is that they’re being loud.
Bottom line: a growing percentage of people don’t watch TV live, and few tweet about it when they do. And as the live TV experience becomes less and less important, that disconnect is only going to get worse.