The electronic water cooler is working after all—at least
according to a new study commissioned by the Cable & Telecommunications Association
for Marketing (CTAM) and conducted by Nielsen. The study finds that social
chatter—particularly on Facebook—has a significant impact on what viewers watch
According to the study, 46% of respondents said they started
watching a TV show because of chatter on Facebook. In addition, 54% of
millennials aged 18-34 said they were influenced by discussion on Facebook, 48%
of adults 35-49 said they were and 30% of baby boomers 50-54 agreed that they
Among the social media's impact on TV viewing, Twitter
finished second but ended up significantly behind Facebook. The study found 14%
of respondents said they started watching a TV show because of chatter on
Twitter. By age, 21% of millennials said they were influenced by tweets on
Twitter, 12% of adults 35-49 said they were and 6% of adults 50-54 said they
TV shows' own websites, forums and online discussion boards
and general entertainment sites were all a close third, slightly behind Twitter
but far behind Facebook.
The study found 9% of respondents said they started watching
a TV show because of chatter on a TV show's website. By age, 8% of millennials
did, 12% of adults 35-49 did and 6% of adults 50-54 did.
Regarding chatter on Web forums or discussion boards, 8% of
respondents said they were influenced to watch a show because of that. Within
that number, 11% of millennials said it had an influence, 8% of adults 35-49
said it did and 3% of adults 50-54 did.
And 7% of respondents said chatter on entertainment sites
motivated them to start watching a TV show. By age, 8% of millennials were
influenced this way, 9% of adults 35-49 were and 4% of adults 50-54 were.
And less than 4% of respondents said Pinterest, Reddit, Viggle,
Foursquare, GetGlue and IntoNow motivated them to turn on a particular TV
The study also found that more females start watching a TV
show due to social chatter on Facebook (49% vs. 43% for males), with more males
starting to watching a show due to Twitter chatter (16% to 12% for females).
Who are the biggest influencers on social sites when it
comes to watching particular TV shows? Friends and family are first, followed
by coworkers and business colleagues. Next come the public at large and more
The study asked respondents how often they talk about TV shows
or content. It found that millennials talk about television more than the
average TV viewer overall, including those in both the 35-49 and 50-54 demos.
Conversations about TV shows take place most often with
people in the same room while watching a show (67%), or in face-to-face
conversations with people at various times (63%). Discussions via phone ranks
next (37%), followed by texting (31%), posting on Facebook (29%), emails (25%),
instant messaging (19%), tweeting and social network apps (each 17%) and
Not surprisingly, millennials do more TV show discussions
via texting, posting on Facebook, instant messaging, tweeting and social
network apps than do the older demo groups.
Respondents were asked when they typically talk about TV
shows either in person, on the phone or online; 49% said before the show goes
on that day, 70% said during the show or during commercial breaks, 75% said
right after the show and 83% said the next day.
Also not surprisingly, live sporting events draw the highest
percentage of conversation before or during the show.
One criterion for those who participated in the
study: They each had to watch more than five hours of TV programming content
per week and had to engage in social interactions around TV shows either online
or through word-of-mouth. An equal amount of men and women were surveyed. Both
live and online interviews were conducted.