STUDY: TV Viewers Aren’t All That Social


No, we’re not talking about the Twitter deluge bemoaning last night’s HBO GO failure. (But please, no Game of Thrones premier spoilers. We fell asleep waiting for it to load.)

Despite all the talk of social media as a new way to measure success on TV, the vast majority of viewers don’t use social while watching–and most of those who do aren’t watching very closely.

Yet two competing studies on the topic show us that the future of the medium is-surprise–hardly set in stone.

First, a late 2013 “Talking Social TV 2” survey by the Council for Research Excellence and Keller Fay Group found that:

  • Just over 16% of Americans use social while watching TV, be it live or “time-shifted”
  • Only 8.3% discuss TV while doing so
  • Just 7.3% engaged in social activities related to the show on the screen

Some interesting standouts from the same data set:

  • Hispanic (10.5%) and young adult (9.6%) audiences were most likely to engage in social conversation about the shows they were watching
  • 7.8% of those on social during TV time weren’t discussing TV. In other words, they were multitasking or “not watching” at all

And yet, a more recent Deloitte survey on the same topic hints at a stronger future for social TV, finding that:

  • More than 80% of consumers multitask while watching TV
  • 26% “almost” or “always” use social while the boob tube is on
  • The number is nearly twice as high (48%) among those aged 14-30
  • One of the more popular activities performed by these Millennial viewers is spending money; 23% report buying products or services online while watching TV

In other words, prime time is still a great time to sell things.

Here’s the video summary of the Deloitte project:

So for every ‘Scandal’ or other conversation starter, there are far more shows that people simply watch without feeling the need to tweet or follow related promos on social.

What do we take from these findings? Can the info help us better use social tie-in campaigns to promote our clients on TV?

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.