Though nowhere near a mainstream activity, social TV activity has increased sharply over 2014 with the majority of the conversations happen during live broadcasts according to research from Nielsen.

nielsen socTVAnalysing 24/7 Twitter TV activity around 72 weekly broadcast and cable programmes in August and September 2014, Nielsen found that the majority of weekly Twitter TV activity, 68% of Tweets, takes place within the live airing window around a new programme, airing in a three-hour window either side of transmission. The percentage was found to vary according to programming type: for example the figure was 55% for comedies and 70% for reality programmes.

Nielsen also found that in many cases, a higher level of Twitter TV activity during the live airing window translated to higher activity during the three following days. Networks whose programmes generate more Tweets during the live airing can expect people to continue engaging audiences in the days that follow.

Such findings, said the analyst, leads to the question: what are people are Tweeting about in between live airings? Nielsen broke down Tweets into four categories for its analysis of activity taking place when programmes are not airing live. These comprised programme viewing (46%); enthusiasm for upcoming programming (36%); referencing programming while discussing it (13%); programme promotions (4%).

Yet even though it found that live airings account for the lion's share of weekly Twitter TV activity, Nielsen added that networks and agencies have the opportunity to explore how and why audiences engage on Twitter between them and boost audience engagement in between episodes through repeat programme airings, stars and promotions.

It said: "High levels of Twitter activity during live airings can have a spill-over benefit during the following three days. With viewers talking about TV programming on Twitter throughout the week, this around-the-clock conversation can open new doors for networks, agencies, and advertisers. Based on activity levels and topics of conversation, industry players can more holistically understand viewers and refine how they engage them to maximise earned media and ultimately build programme audiences."