Back in the early days of the online thing (it wasn’t even really the Internet then), I was working for a major television network (OK, ABC if you need to know). As part of my job began to involve engaging people with online content, several higher-ups expressed concern that we might be pulling people away from the broadcast. When I moved on to another large network, that thinking persisted. We couldn’t or shouldn’t be doing anything that would pull viewers away from their TV screens. It wasn’t a shock to me that the “exchanging analog dollars for digital dimes” analogy came from a TV person.
Fast forward 18 years. While TV viewing is more segmented than ever, overall viewing has continued to increase, as has use of digital devices to engage viewers. In fact, there is now evidence that the very things that were feared to be pulling viewers away from TV are, in fact, deeply engaging them in the show. According to a new study from iModerate Research Technologies, social media can increase the time viewers spend watching TV. 58% of those consumers who share stuff on social networks related to what they are watching at least 10 times a week, report watching more live TV. The respondents in this study consistently remarked that it makes TV more fun.
What’s really interesting is that there is evidence that the social activity has viewers adding shows to their TV activities specifically because of social conversations. Turns out that it’s free promotion, not competition, I guess. With time spent viewing continually on the rise, social interaction seems to be adding a dimension that can compensate for the times when “there’s 57 channels and nothing on.”
iModerate also found three types of consumers who regularly engage in social TV experiences. They are:
- “The Sports Nut”: 25-54 year-old males who use social platforms to comment on games, debate, talk trash, etc.
- “The Extrovert”: 18-34 year-old males who have a lot of real-life and online friends.
- “The Girlfriend”: 25-44 year-old females who primarily use social TV to discuss the dramas and reality TV shows that are important to them, which is akin to a “girls’ night out” experience, according to the study.
Another example of how sometimes our worst business fears are, in fact, our best friends!