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Social Media’s Influence on TV Viewing is Currently Small

NEW YORK— Consumers’ interaction with social media in relation to their television viewing is relatively modest compared to other forms of communication and lags behind other online media, TV promotions and offline communication, according to a new Nielsen study. Only 12 percent of respondents use social media one or more times per day concerning TV.

However, 37 percent use social media one or more times per week – suggesting growth potential for social media as an influence. Half also report viewing TV concurrently with social media use.

The research was headed by the Social Media Committee of the Council for Research Excellence and included a quantitative study by the Keller Fay Group, an ethnographic study by Nielsen Life360 and social media analyses by NM Incite and Bluefin Labs. An academic team including Peter Fader of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mitch Lovett of the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and Renana Peres of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was engaged to undertake statistical modeling.

A formal presentation of the findings is scheduled for the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement 8.0 conference, June 10-11. A subsequent event will be held June 25 offering a fuller presentation of findings.

In terms of social-media influence, only 1.5 percent of study respondents report being drawn to existing TV shows by social media – but that number increases to 6 percent for new shows.

Social media use varies by genre: Sci-Fi, Sports and Talk/News show strong interaction overall. Reality programming’s interaction is even stronger while people are watching, less so before or after the program. Comedy follows an opposite pattern, with less interaction during the program and more interaction in reaction to it.

“Super Connectors,” those most actively involved in social media usage related to TV viewing, represent 12 percent of the public, and tend to be younger and female. Other groups also are active, although Super Connectors are not well represented among those over 45. Super Connectors are more likely to be involved with all means of communication about television. They were two-to-three times as likely to interact with social media related to television as the general population.

Hispanics are also more involved with social media, especially while watching TV. While watching, Hispanics are 50 percent more likely to interact with social media related to TV, and to interact with most television genres, led by sports programming.

Mobile device ownership increases social media interaction; in on-demand and online watching, social media played a role twice as often.

The study also found people use social media to discuss TV shows, even when others are watching with them.