Television programming has always been a popular subject for water cooler conversations at work, so it doesn't take too much imagination to think that social media and television are a match made in heaven.

But according to a survey conducted by online television hub SideReel, expectations about social media and television may be a little bit too high.

The company polled 1,800 of its users, nearly 80% of whom reported that they watch more than five hours of television online each week. Only 25% of them indicated that they were interested in seeing what their friends are watching on television. Even fewer (10%) are interested in sharing what they're watching.

SideReel called the results "unexpected." And for good reason: the 25% figure cited above dropped 50% from the previous year. Such a large drop in a single year can mean one of two things: something is funky with SideReel's numbers or survey methodology, or consumers are losing interest in watching television while socializing.

If we assume that the latter is true to some extent, it may have a lot to do with the user experience. As ReadWriteWeb has noted, hit U.S. television show Glee has seen built a unique engagement model that seems to be resonating with fans, particularly those on Twitter. In the face of SideReel's survey, Glee's success with social would seems to be an indication that television producers hoping to spark buzz on social communities like Twitter and Facebook are going to have to meet consumers half way by creating social experiences in their shows themselves.

In other words, social media television, like social media marketing, is not a passive undertaking. If you want results, you have to work hard to stand out.

Photo credit: .reid. via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 21 January, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (9)

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Seems indeed like a match made in heaven this one. That said, lots of social media is done on smartphones. Good topic this!

over 7 years ago


John Palmer

Not often we are thinking about thet... Thank you for this reninder!

about 7 years ago



Given that content needs to be funded, in the main, by advertising, the question is how do we make advertising engaging through the socialisation of TV?  Fine, send me the show but how are you going to make me watch the ads when I would rather do something else whilst they're playing (probably the same as over 75% of people...).

about 7 years ago


Nigel G

This is pretty misleading - at the very least the headline should read "Consumers don't want to mix ONLINE TV and Social". There's a growing body of evidence that the interaction of broadcast TV, especially 'event' TV, and social networking at home is one of the most important trends in media consumption.

about 7 years ago


Mark Rogers, CEO at Market Sentinel Ltd

I agree with Nigel G. the headline is misleading.  There are astounding peaks of Twitter traffic during major TV events like XFactor or the British Comedy Awards. #horriblehistories was a global Twitter trend after their win on Saturday night. Twitter and event TV is one of the big revenue opportunities for broadcasters in social at present.  #disc @marketsentinel works for ITV.

about 7 years ago

Ed Stivala

Ed Stivala, Managing Director at n3w media

Good point Nigel.

I would also add that the type of TV programme probably makes a significant difference too. Perhaps this is linked to the viewing audience or indeed the content itself. I would imagine a current affairs documentary would cause more "Tweet side chat" than a blockbuster movie. 

about 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hmmm, this is classic participation inequality. The real story is that 10% of people want to share what they're watching, and that's actually a big number (especially if there are millions of viewers watching any given show).

I'm sure Mark and Ed will testify that lots of viewers provide a running commentary on Twitter for all kinds of TV shows. That's part of the fun of tuning into certain shows... the background noise can be hilarious / insightful / more entertaining than the show itself.

In my view TV and social are a match made in heaven and this will become a much bigger space in the years ahead. 

about 7 years ago

Simon Francis

Simon Francis, Campaign & communications consultant at Claremont Communications

This sort of research really irritates me.

There is increasing evidence that the link between TV and social media is growing (to add to Mark's list #bbcqt is a regular trending topic). If you're watching online TV, it's unlikely you'll also be using social media, except for on your phone.

So in this sense does the research actually indicate that online TV is no-longer the preserve of tech geeks (who are more likely to multi-task), but spreading into the mainstream?

I know marketing sites are keen to run lots of content, but like dodgy 'proof' of Mummy Bloggers influence which WARC posted last week, I wish the editors would look behind the figures a little more.

about 7 years ago


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