A quarter of television viewers are more aware of programs due to their social media interactions, suggesting that social TV represents a new opportunity for marketers to attract highly engaged TV audiences, according to a Nielsen study.
The study also found that 15 percent of viewers said they enjoyed watching television more when social media was involved and that social media has the greatest effect on Hispanic TV viewers who show the highest program awareness, television enjoyment and live TV watching of all ethnic groups. The results underscore the opportunity the social TV phenomenon is creating for advertisers to tap into and leverage the momentum of social conversations.
“Through social media, mobile devices have energized TV viewing by empowering TV viewers to engage in the experience in a wholly new way,” said Deirdre Bannon, vice president for product with Nielsen Social. “TV Viewers are using mobile devices to share reactions to content, connect with fellow fans, program stars, and advertisers, and explore program-related content through social media.
“Mobile devices together with these interactions they enable, are changing TV viewing from a solitary, one directional activity to a social, multi-faceted experience,” she said.
Nielsen’s study, titled “Living Social: How Second Screens Are Helping TV Make Fans”, cited a first-quarter 2014 Cross Platform Report which showed that the average adult aged 18 and over now watches five hours and 10 minutes of live TV and 34 minutes of time-shifted TV per day.
While social media has the greatest effect on Hispanic TV viewers who show the highest program awareness (32%), television enjoyment (26%) and live TV watching (18%) of all ethnic groups, African-Americans are the ethnic group most likely to sample new shows online at 14 percent, and Asian Americans, who are also the fastest adopters of new technology, record more programs than any other ethnic group.
Consumers are also using the second screen to engage in other digital activities while watching television content. Among Americans aged 13 years old and older who own a smartphone or tablet, more than two-thirds of tablet users and about half of smartphone users said surfing the Web was the number one activity they choose to do while watching their favorite programs.
More than 40 percent of tablet owners said shopping or looking up actors, plots, athletes were the top activities they did while watching TV. In terms of smartphone owners, 29 percent said they emailed or texted friends about a program, and 27 percent said they checked sports scores.
While mobile’s influence on traditional television has been felt for some time, the convergence of the two platforms started stepping into high-gear last year.
With a surge in digital viewing of TV programming and in the kinds of content available for such consumption, mobile is increasingly influencing when and where consumers watch their favorite programs. At the same time, mobile’s role in how viewers engage with their traditional TV sets is also growing.
HBO was one of the first networks to recognize how viewers habits are changing, resulting in the launch of the HBO GO app, which enables subscribers to watch its programming from a variety of devices.
Mobile users have also embraced services such as Hulu to access TV programming from their mobile devices.
One of the interesting recent trends is the growing availability of TV content directly from the networks on which consumers are used to watching them.
Nielsen Social's Web site.
Last year, ABC launched the first network app to make live content available to mobile users on a full-time basis, while CBS introduced an iPhone and iPad app that streams episodes of its primetime, daytime and late-night programming.
Additionally, public TV station Thirteen/WNET launched a free iPad app offering full episodes of popular programming such as American Masters, Nova and Antiques Roadshow.
Tweeting about TV
The study’s results fit with another recent Nielsen study about the value of social TV to marketers. That study found that in an average month, 64 percent of people who tweet about brands also tweet about TV. So, if a brand is looking to engagement people who are likely to share their brand message, connecting with social TV authors is a good place to start.
The study also found that the population of people who Tweet about both brands and TV account for an outsized portion of Tweets about brands — sending 78 percent of all brand Tweets.
In addition, people who posted Tweets about TV and brands sent three times as many brand Tweets as those Twitter authors who only posted Tweets about brands, according to the study. People who tweet about brands and TV have twice as many followers as those who only tweet about brands. In other words, those TV authors are twice as influential as brand authors that don't tweet about TV, the study found.
“The overarching implication for marketers is that social TV is playing an increasingly important role in people’s TV viewing choices and experiences,” Ms. Bannon said.
“Social TV represents a new opportunity to attract and engage with highly engaged TV audiences.”
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.