Twitter giving identifiable boost to TV viewing

Joseph O'Halloran | 25 September 2014

Even though social TV is stubbornly yet to emerge as a real commercial force, research from Kantar Media suggests Twitter activity can provide insights into TV viewing, complementing existing ratings.

In its A Year in the Life of TV and Twitter survey—designed to provides what Kantar calls the first in-depth look at the relationship between what we say and read about on the leading social media platform and what we watch in the UK—as many and one in nine broadcasters gain viewers as a direct result of Tweets boosting audiences by an estimated 2% during those shows.

The survey data related to Twitter activity around live broadcasts but did not include video-on-demand (VOD) nor live sports, news and special events. Yet Kantar asserted that the survey found evidence to support the proopistion that not only has Twitter the power to boost TV viewing during broadcast but that smaller channels and shows can boost their share of voice by employing effective Twitter strategies.

Kantar discovered a Twitter TV 'Top 30', that is to say interms of volume of tweets, the top 30 TV series accounted for halfof all measured UK Twitter TV activity and 9% of viewing volume. TV Tweet levels broadly correlated with TV channel shares and programme/series viewing figures across a broad time period, although some channels were found to have over-performed on Twitter relative to audience share.

The data also showed that of the TV Tweets analysed, there was a noticeable skew towards entertainment, talent shows, constructed reality, documentaries, soaps, special events and some dramas, including Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, where there is a cult or younger following. Tweeting activity also correlated with audience size at a broad level with shows having the largest volume of Twitter TV activity tending to have higher audiences. Yet Kantar stressed that it was still possible for smaller shows can gain disproportionate levels of Twitter activity if they are 'social TV friendly', for example encouraging participation or skewing to a younger audience.

"People have always talked about TV with friends and family, and Twitter extends these conversations outside the living room," says Andy Brown, Global CEO of Kantar Media. "[There is a] positive correlation between Twitter and TV in the UK, but [the study] also shows that it is not as straightforward as assuming that a high number of viewers results in a large volume of tweets. 'Twitter friendly' shows that encourage tweets during the broadcast or have a younger, evangelical audience for example, can punch above their weight, thereby distorting overall perceptions. This illustrates how proactive encouragement of social TV activity can positively impact programming schedules and advertising campaigns."

Added Twitter global vice president of sales strategy Joel Lunenfeld: "Twitter and TV is a powerful combination for programme makers and advertisers alike. This study by Kantar Media is the first time that we have seen those patterns of consumer behaviour tracked over the course of a year in the UK. It provides a fascinating set of insights that will help the industry better understand and harness the power of social TV."