Could Twitter Bring Users Back to Primetime?

by Alyssa Oursler | August 6, 2013 11:55 am

Just last week, a new Nielson study showed that more young viewers tune into[1] Facebook (FB[2]) during prime time than they do the four major networks.

To me, this pointed to a decline in prime time’s importance; users no longer gather around to watch their favorite shows at the same time every week. Instead, they often consume when they want and where they want via streaming services, and are more-than-likely multitasking[3] as they do it.

Now, though, a Nielson study shows that Twitter could actually be pulling viewers back to more traditional TV viewing — just with an additional screen. Recent research analyzed a total of 221 television episodes, and the results showed that a television show’s ratings and its Twitter buzz are correlated, according to Reuters[4].

Whether this data is a matter of Twitter buzz tempting folks to turn on the TV, or a matter of popular shows naturally being more talked about, is a bit harder to tell. I suspect it’s a little bit of both — a snowball effect, if you will. The study did say, though, that 29% of the episodes indeed showed that tweets caused significant changes in the TV rating.

Either way, this demonstrates the main perk of watching a show when it first airs: You can be part of the conversation, live-tweeting plot twists and getting witty social media commentary from faraway friends and celebs alike.

And while Facebook is “seeking to break the long-held dominance of television over advertising budgets,” as Bloomberg reporter Edmund Lee put it last week[5], Twitter is hoping to complement it.

As Reuters writer Gerry Shih wrote in response to the new study: Twitter has “long sought to convince large brand marketers that it is a potent, real-time ad-delivery platform that complements and augments the live television-viewing experience.”

Of course, if social media’s real-time conversations are drawing users back to the television anyways, one could argue that advertisers don’t need to reinvent the wheel and target them from the so-called second screen.

That would be a whole lot of lost opportunity, though, considering over half of tablet and smartphone owners use social media while watching TV. At least that’s what Twitter wants advertisers to think, especially if it decides to follow through with rumors of a coming IPO[6].

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. more young viewers tune into:
  2. FB:
  3. more-than-likely multitasking:
  4. according to Reuters:
  5. Edmund Lee put it last week:
  6. rumors of a coming IPO:

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