nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Why social TV matters

Active Twitter user growth

Earlier this month Strategy Analytics said that TV strategies based on Twitter were a waste of time as they interest just 18% of the audience. However, there is gathering evidence that movie and TV producers need to pay very close attention to social media.

There has been quite a bit of negative press in the last month or so, pouring scorn on the idea that social media can be much help to video producers. Strategy Analytics took aim at Twitter, saying that only a very select group (which the company calls manic multiscreeners) were likely to follow tweets about a favorite TV program. This led the company to conclude:

“Strategies heavily focused on this <Twitter+TV> would be a big waste as it’s irrelevant to over 80% of TV viewers.”

This opinion appears to be corroborated by data from a Verizon study earlier this year. The company found that 88% of non-millennials and 70% of millennials that engaged in second screening (using a connected screen while watching television) were engaging in activities that had nothing to do with the television program they were watching.

However, other data illustrates that it would be a mistake to rush to judgment on the efficacy of social TV.

Tobias Bauckhage is co-founder and CEO of Moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community. He has written several pieces for Variety talking about the link between social media and the prospects for success of new movies. He is beginning to develop a track record of successfully predicting the hits and failures before the movies open. In his latest forecast, published last Friday in Variety, he examined tweets, likes, and movie trailer views to estimate the likely takings for two of the top movies opening last weekend. He’s forecast for The Equalizer was that it would lead the weekend box office with around $30-33 million in ticket receipts. It earned $35 million. He thought The Boxtrolls would tak in $16 million: it actually grossed $17.5 million.

Nielsen also thinks there is a strong link between Twitter activity and television viewing. In a causation study from last year, the company found that a 14% increase in Twitter volume was associated with a 1% increase in TV ratings in the 35 to 49-year-old age group. The effect was even stronger for midseason episodes, when an audience sometimes starts to drift away. The same 1% increase in rating was achieved with just an 8.4% increase in Twitter volume.

The amplification effect of social media can make a small but vocal minority a big influence on the majority. With 271 million active Twitter users each with, on average, 208 followers, even a regular user can have a disproportionate influence. One can only imagine how many followers a “manic multiscreener” can reach.

What all of this makes clear is that we are only just beginning to understand the links between the social sphere and the media which we consume. Video producers need to continue to pay attention, and even cater, to the socially oriented television and movie viewer, even though that group maybe in the minority.

Why it matters

The value of social media to the TV and movie industries has been under question of late.

Data suggests only a minority follow TV related material through social media, and fewer still comment about it in social media while watching.

Other data seems to show a clear link between social and video media.

While we learn more about the usefulness of social TV, TV and movie producers should continue to leverage social media in all aspects of their strategic plans.


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