By Dawn C. Chmielewski
2:49 PM PST, December 28, 2012
A new study reveals that social-network conversations about a television show can increase viewership.
"How Chatter Matters in TV Viewing," Nielsen research conducted for the cable industry association CTAM, shows a powerful connection between Facebook posts and TV viewing.
About 49% of women surveyed (and 43% of men) said they began watching a show because their Facebook friends were taking about it on the social network. Twitter conversations prompted more men (16%) to start tuning in than women (14%).
Heavy social media users are proving to be more influential than journalists, celebrities or even TV networks themselves, the study found. Prolific commenters are persuading others to watch a new show's premiere or to tune into a series for the first time.
The demographic that advertisers covet, viewers 18 to 34 years old, were the most influenced by social media chatter. Among those in this age group, 54% said they were enticed to tune in to a show because of Facebook comments, and about 21% said they were swayed by tweets.
Nearly half of viewers 35 to 49 years old said their interest was piqued by Facebook comments, while 12% said they were intrigued by Twitter remarks. Older viewers were less influenced by social media conversations, Nielsen found.
The study revealed that television viewing has become social currency. Some 70% of people said they chatted in person, on the phone or online during commercials -- and also while watching the show. Live sporting events were among the most comment-worthy, as 35% of viewers said they talked, posted or sent messages during a competition and 30% conversed during commercial breaks.
Conversations about TV comedies, movies, dramas and news shows reached a peak the following day or later, as viewers sought out friends and coworkers and shared their thoughts online.
"This snapshot shows social media is influential for all viewers, particularly the 18-34 year olds," said CTAM Chief Executive Char Beales. "Networks need to provide many ways for viewers to discover and talk about their shows -- second-screen apps, fan sites, network sites and by seeding social media -- find out what works best for their audience, and take advantage of the new opportunities to spur conversations. "
Nielsen's results were based on interviews and an online study involving 828 adults 18 to 64 years old who are regular television viewers.
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