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Social media monitoring company Brandwatch has recently undertaken a study to unveil how Twitter is transforming the way we watch TV.  

The study, which analysed Twitter conversation during 50 of the top UK and US TV shows has highlighted a number of key TV ‘dual screen’ behaviours.

It has outlined the TV shows are taking full advantage of their Twitter presence in order to grow and retain a loyal customer following.

How prevalent is dual screening?

Brandwatch found that viewers are on average 12x more likely to tweet about a TV show when the show is being broadcast, compared to days when it is not broadcast, and 22x more likely to use the show’s official hashtag on broadcast day.

Shows that are on regularly, such as soaps, see less of a change, with viewers 2x more likely to tweet on broadcast day compared to days when the show is not on, and 7x more likely to use the hashtag.

Shows that are on once a week, such as BBC Question Time, see a much bigger jump in conversation, nearly 30x more tweets when the show is on compared to days when it is not, and 48 x more tweets using the official hashtag, on average.

Although US audiences are most likely to tweet about shows, with an average of 1.5 times more tweets about shows than UK audiences. However, UK audiences are more likely to use official hashtags in tweets (31% of UK tweets including them, compared to 12% for US audiences).

It came as no surprise that showing a hashtag at the beginning of the show resulted in 63% increase in the proportion of tweets about the programme including the official hashtag!

Dual screening is particularly prominent during big events. For example, during the Champion’s League Final last May, the number of tweets during the match peaked at over 32,000 a second, and almost half (48%) of all tweets about the match on the day were posted during the actual game.

Where and why do people use dual screens? 

The top three places mentioned in tweets by viewers using dual screens were:

  1. In bed (64%)

  2. On the sofa (27%)

  3. At work (6%) 

A sample of tweets were analysed about a random selection of the shows to understand what had prompted people to tweet about a show. What was found:

  • 57% of tweets were prompted by actions or personalities of specific characters and guests.
  • 8% was anticipation of watching a show in the near future.
  • 7% was prompted by plot twists, and a further 7% was driven by people directly quoting from a show.

Interestingly, the sentiment of tweets about shows become more emotive once the show starts broadcasting.

On average, emotive tweets make up 12% of total Twitter conversation about shows, but this rises to 19% on days the shows are broadcast. Often, there is an increase in the proportion of tweets that are negative (a rise of 8 percentage points) once the show starts on TV – usually due to people disagreeing with characters’ actions. 

But in the hour after the show has finished, positive conversation creeps up an average of three percentage points compared to sentiment during broadcast time.

How are brands reacting?

In general, TV shows are still struggling to get people to use official hashtags when discussing programmes. On average, only 25% of Twitter conversation about TV shows use the official hashtag of the show in question.

Factual/current affairs programmes have the most adoption of official hashtags among audiences, with an average of 83% of tweets about these shows including the official hashtag. This is followed by reality TV (35%), talent shows (33%), soaps (32%), entertainment/game shows (23%), sport shows (16%) and sitcoms (12%).

Some shows are more forward thinking that others. The inclusion of the hashtag on screen at the beginning of ‘structured reality’ show Made in Chelsea, along with the hashtag being the show’s name (#madeinchelsea), for example, means that on average 20% of conversation about the show uses the official hashtag, which jumps to 27% on days the show airs.

This is despite a shorter ‘unofficial' hashtag, #MIC, also being frequently used by fans on Twitter.

A recent post on Econsultancy, looking at data provided by Twitter UK partner SecondSync Limited, found that Made in Chelsea has a high ratio of viewers to people tweeting – one in four viewers is also actively engaged on Twitter during most episodes.

During this particular episode there were 215,220 tweets from 110,162 users, reaching a whopping a potential 124.2m users: 

UK cooking show Come Dine With Me, in contrast, uses an official hashtag that is an acronym rather than the show’s name (#CDWM) and does not show this on screen during broadcast. This results in only 8% of tweets about the show using the hashtag, on average. 

The Big Bang Theory similarly fails to encourage viewers to use an official hashtag, with just 11% of US conversation and only 7% of UK conversation about the show containing the hashtag used by the official Twitter account, #bigbangtheory.

The UK’s Celebrity Big Brother also uses an acronym as the official hashtag - #cbb – but inclusion of this during the show and in idents beforehand means that conversation about the show jumped from an average of  25% using the hashtag pre-launch, to 72% once the show had started on January 3rd.

This was also helped by the show’s official twitter account using the hashtag in its own tweets, thus encouraging others to do the same – a tactic that Come Dine With Me does not adopt.

Which shows are taking advantage of the opportunity with their Twitter presence?

Only 43% of the TV shows we looked at include the shows official/most used hashtag in their Twitter bio. However, 83% of them used the hashtag in all or most of their tweets.

Suprisingly nearly half (48%) of account never or rarely respond to fan’s tweets, although 78% did often retweet fans about the show. There was no major different in the use of Twitter accounts for US shows vs. UK ones. The top TV show Twitter accounts taking advantage of dual screening opportunities are:

The Great British Bake Off (UK)  - @britishbakeoff

GBBO uses the hashtag #gbbo in its tweets and also includes it in its Twitter bio. It regularly engages with fans, responding and retweeting them, as well as tweeting regularly, both during the show’s broadcast time and when the show is not airing.

The Voice (US) – @nbcthevoice

Although The Voice doesn’t include the hashtag #thevoice in its Twitter bio, it does use the hashtag in its own tweets. It also engages with fans on the social network, both when the show is airing and in between episodes, responding to and retweeting fans’ tweets.

As a result, it has over a million followers, many of whom are actively engaged with the account. 

The Biggest Loser (US) – @biggestlosernbc

The official Biggest Loser account makes use of the #biggestloser hashtag both in its bio and its own tweets, regularly engages with, retweets and thanks fans tweeting about the show. It regularly tweets, both during the show’s broadcast time commenting on the show’s content, and at other times. 

And some of the best in each genre, of the shows analysed:

  • Reality TV: The Great British Bake Off (UK) - @britishbakeoff
  • Talent show: The Voice (US) - @nbcthevoice / Britain’s Got Talent (UK) - @gottalent
  • Factual/current affairs: BBC Question Time (UK) - @bbcquestiontime
  • Soap: Hollyoaks (UK) - @hollyoaks
  • Drama: Glee (US) - @gleeonfox
  • Sitcom: How I Met Your Mother (US) - @HIMYM_CBS
  • Sport: Soccer am (UK) - @socceram / Sports Center (US) - @sportscenter 

One brand that’s missing out on the opportunity is Match of the Day. Although the Match of the Day account tweets regularly during football matches, the account fails to regularly engage with fans or make the use of the ##MOTD and #MOTD2 hashtags that are commonly used by tweeting fans.

How can other brands take advantage of dual screening?

Including a hashtag on screen during advertisements results in, on average, 44% of tweets about the ad including the hashtag – compared to just 16% for adverts that did not show a hashtag on screen, despite using one on social sites. 

Virgin Atlantic’s new television ad including the unique hashtag #fitfoo on screen meant that 92% of tweets about the ad on the day it was first broadcast included the hashtag.

Rob McNair

Published 31 January, 2013 by Rob McNair

Rob McNair is Chief Strategic Officer at mycleveragency and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

3 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Steve

It will be interesting to see the demographic of the people who tweet.

over 3 years ago

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Ben

I generally agree that Twitter (or even social media as a whole) is enhancing the way we watch and discuss TV. There's even dedicated apps such as Zeebox(zeebox.com)that turn tablets into an interactive second screen.

I'm interested to see how the entertainment industry will utilise upcoming technology (such as Apple's AirPlay and Microsoft's Xbox SmartGlass)and social networks will change how we interact with TV shows and fans.

over 3 years ago

Tom Howlett

Tom Howlett, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Interesting post, I guess people like discussing different TV shows they like. Just as they were previously on fan forums and other similar mediums. Now that they can see what people are saying in real-time, it definitely brings that conversation forward. For some shows such as Made in Chelsea, this does appear to be more of a 'be heard' platform - it is quite difficult following that feed.

I also had a look at the Twitter posts for the show Eddie Stobart once, was really surprised how many tweets there were.

I am not sure this will move anywhere unless we start to see more of an interaction between what people are saying and what is happening on screen.

over 3 years ago

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Dan | DBTHSocialPR

I see more and more shows referring to tweets/posts during shows, live feeds highlighting them. The next steps why not vines with 6 second
interviews/reviews?

over 3 years ago

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Alex Turner

Twitter and social media is most definitely affecting the way we watch and engage with TV. People are tweeting and sharing stories about what they are watching and in many cases their efforts are being recognised on the things they watch.

over 3 years ago

Dean Marsden

Dean Marsden, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai Ltd

I can't believe how many shows are promoting the use of Twitter and other social channels to interact with the show. It seems no TV show is boring enough not too generate conversations on the web.

With the continued increase in mobile internet devices this can only get more and more popular. My thoughts are that are we really engaging with TV shows or just voicing our opinions out loud? Who's listening? Its definitely the world biggest living room conversation. Fun but nothing else than just providing feedback to the TV directors in my opinion. Great stats though.

over 3 years ago

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