Nielsen Study: Social Media Drives TV Viewers Awareness, Enjoyment Of Programs

The jury is still out on how strong an effect social media has on television viewing habits. An NBCUniversal executive made a big splash in April with an emperor-has-no-clothes statement, saying that social did nothing for Winter Olympic ratings but Twitter, Facebook and others beg to differ. This week, Nielsen added more data to the […]

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The jury is still out on how strong an effect social media has on television viewing habits.

An NBCUniversal executive made a big splash in April with an emperor-has-no-clothes statement, saying that social did nothing for Winter Olympic ratings but Twitter, Facebook and others beg to differ.

This week, Nielsen added more data to the social-matters side of the ledger, reporting a study showing that 25% of U.S. viewers said they were more aware of TV programs because of their social media interactions. The study, using data from the fourth quarter of 2013, also found that 15% of viewers say they enjoy television more because of their social media activity. Both figures were significant increases from 2012 results (18% for awareness, 11% for enjoyment).

However, social media isn’t the primary second-screen activity according to other Nielsen data. Two-thirds of tablet users and about half of the smart phone users said surfing the web was their No. 1 secondary activity while watching TV. Shopping (24% phone, 44% tablet), checking sports scores (27%, 29%), looking up actors, plots, athletes, etc. (29%, 41%) and emailing or texting friends about the program (29%, 23%) all surpassed reading social media commentary about the show (12%, 18%) in popularity. Here’s the Nielsen chart (click to enlarge):

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Of course, all these results suffer from a lack of freshness (the above chart uses data from the third quarter of 2013) and user preferences can shift quickly in the social Internet era. Judging from other evidence, however, it seems likely that social media use by TV viewers has increased since then.

The higher-engagement trend was most prevalent among ethnic minorities, according to the study:

… compared to national averages, a greater percent of African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics report watching more live TV, being aware of more programs, recording programs, and enjoying television more as a result of social media. In fact, 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.



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About the author

Martin Beck
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Martin Beck was Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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