Americans augment Olympics TV viewing with social networks, online video, finds Pew

As America becomes a multiscreen society, so too has the way Americans are following the London Olympics, according to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Asurveyof 1005 Americans, conducted Aug. 2-5, found that while eight in 10 people say they have watched or are following the Olympics on TV, 17 percent report watching Olympic coverage online or digitally, and 12 percent have kept abreast of the games via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The Pew findings appear to bolster the case that Americans are melding their TV viewing and online experiences with the help of second screens and the Internet. According to Pew, following the games on social networks and online is supplementing TV viewing of the competition. Seventy-nine percent of those polled who are following online or via social networks report also watching coverage on TV.

While the percentage of people watching on TV is more than four times greater than those who say they watch online, there is no substantial difference in how viewers of each describe the quality of coverage they’re receiving. Of those who are watching online or following via social networks, 70 percent rate the coverage as excellent/good, while 77 percent of TV viewers give the coverage they watch the same high marks.

As might be expected, younger people are more inclined to follow the games on social media sites than older Americans. According to the findings, 31 percent of those ages 18-29 have followed coverage on social networking sites. Of those ages 30-49, social media as a source of information about the games drops to 11 percent; for those 50 to 64 years of age 6 percent; and those 65 or older just 2 percent.

The poll also found that 23 percent of TV viewers report watching Olympics coverage live, while 68 percent say they watch the events in the evening after they have occurred. A similar split of live vs. delayed consumption was found among those following coverage online and via social networks, Pew said.