One in every six occasions, viewers who watch primetime television are also using social media, whether its related to the show they’re watching or not.

This is according to the latest study from the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) based on a sample of 1,665 respondents between September and October 2013.

In an earlier study carried out by Deloitte in 2013, more than half of adults admitted to interacting with another form of media while they watch television, this is more than double the previous year’s figure of 24% who admit to second screening.

This is a huge increase and this figure will likely rise even more steeply in 2014. The Deloitte research however covers all activity on a mobile device, whether it’s interacting on social media, shopping, browsing the internet for unrelated information or sending emails. 

Let’s take a look at some more results from the CRE study, which mainly concentrates on the use of social media while second-screening.


According to the survey, 16% of a television audience is using social media at the same time. Less than half (7%) of that segment is engaging in social media related to the actual show they’re watching.

The majority of social conversation (almost 8%) is non-show related. Either social media serves as a welcome distraction for some, or people are just more inclined to engage or reply while sat relaxing at home with a mobile device within arm’s reach.

Usage by social network

Here’s where the report differs from other research that we’ve seen in the past 18 months.

Facebook leads the field for social TV with 3.8% of socially connected viewers choosing this network. More than double those using Twitter (1.8%).

Early last year it was revealed in Twitter’s relationship with TV that more than 90% of online public conversations about TV are on Twitter.

In February this year, David Moth looked at how Facebook could compete with Twitter for live engagement and surmised that Twitter was still the go-to channel for discussing television. 

Bola Awoniyi discusses in his article three reasons why Facebook can’t beat Twitter for social TV, the inherent faults within Facebook that stymie its chances.

Branded content dominated contextual search, rather than up-to-the-minute opinion and the fact that hashtags, the very bread and butter of Twitter search and relevance, just don’t work on Facebook.

Social versus TV advertising

Social media still has a lot to catch-up with compared to traditional TV promos, which were at least three times as influential in recommending new shows to viewers.

Although social ‘word of mouth’ can contribute to the hype built around a show once it’s running and can certainly drive audiences towards it in later episodes or seasons. 

You only need to consider the outpouring of social positivity in regards to True Detective and Breaking Bad. These shows had already broadcast their first episodes or first few seasons before they became a ubiquitous social presence.

It’s the advanced television promotion that encouraged the early adopters to take up the show initially.

Social media however is twice as effective for attracting viewers to new shows (6.8%) as it is for returning shows (3.3%).

For more information read What will the future of social television look like?

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 25 March, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (5)


Scott @ Kawntent

The use of social media is highly adamant nowadays, since it is readily available not just on desktop PCs but also in tablet computers and handy smartphones. Because of its convenience, people now can access it easier even when they are busy with something else, like catching up on their favorite TV series.

It helps a lot in making indirect advertisements about recent shows that need extra push in ratings, specially when they are being watched by these viewers who tend to post about in Facebook or Twitter.

over 4 years ago


Sukhpreet Kaur, SEO Consultant at Birdbrain Logic

I'm surprised to see the amazing number of viewers using social media accounts while watching TV. Even I do that and love tweeting when something interesting comes up on the show.

I love to be the first one spreading the news through the social accounts :)

over 4 years ago


Cash for Cars Brisbane, Marketing at SK Automotive

and it's only going to get crazier.. lot of potential for new forms of engagement here.


over 4 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

My feeling is that these big social successes occur when lowest-common-denominator scripts are given superlative and distinctive technical treatment (camera work, location choice etc). This was confirmed when I was I was eventually forced to watch Breaking Bad, which my step daughter was reporting for college.

Once you realize this, it makes them fairly dull viewing, but on the other hand how hard could it be recreate the recipe?

over 4 years ago



What is shows is a perfect case for Social TV.

over 4 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.