In my last post, I wrote about how those Brits were using social media during their telly time, and said that I would check on the stats for us Americans.  Well… I did some digging and sure enough…

WE GET THE GOLD!    *(Damn American arrogance)

Market research firm Penn Schoen Berland published the results of a poll which stated (in strangely British terms) “There’s a sea change afoot in how Americans discover and consume entertainment.”

What?!?  Sea change afoot?!?  I need to hijack that pithy comment for my Twitter account.

According to the stats:

  • 66% of Americans are watching TV while simultaneously on social network sites
  • 41% Tweet about the show they are currently watching
  • 50% watch movies while on social network sites
  • 11% are online while at a theater.

Interestingly enough, 11% of theater goers are also complete jerks.  Not really – I just made that last part up.

The study even went to so far as to confirm my suspicions about the types of TV shows that people are most likely to post about.  Comedies top the list at 56% (which was a surprise to me) and Reality shows came a pretty close second at 46%.  Following those two were sports at 38% and cable news at 26%.

So now that we have the numbers out of the way, the big question that sits in my (and most marketers) minds is this:  How much of an impact does social media have on whether or not people will watch a show?  It’s been a particularly interesting thought as I’ve been hearing news reports of the high ratings that Olympic viewing is getting this year versus past ones.  With the exception of U.S. hosted Olympics, NBC has stated that the 2012 Olympics achieved the highest viewership records of any non-U.S. hosted Summer Olympic since 1976.  A boon for the third-ranked network.

However, they are also dealing with the backlash of discontent viewers through social media.  Apparently, they could learn something from Simon Cowell.  Jeff Jarvis, a magazine editor turned social-media guru, stated

“The problem for NBC as for other media is that it is trying to preserve old business models in a new reality.”

Poor NBC.  They seem to be in that ugly, awkward teenage stage of development.  Case in point, what’s the deal with treating tweets like part of the news report?  As one person from the world of Twitter aptly tweeted

“Ryan Seacrest is reading Olympic-related tweets to us on TV.”

Wait a minute – did I just do the same thing?  And does Ryan Seacrest feel like a dweeb reading tweets on the air?  

Joining NBC in social media awkwardness was this year’s IOC.  Bucking an attempt to control and manage the messages coming from Olympic Village, millennials took to the world of Twitter to express their thoughts – to the detriment of Voula Papachristou and Michel Morganella.   Not to mention the officials dealing with GPS interference from all those hashtags slinging through the virtual world.

So, at least in terms of live television, it seems that social media IS shaping the world of television – in terms of controlling public perception of either the event, the network, or a singular person; and in terms of expectations to get live events as they happen.  Choice, not control, is the new mantra – the new reality.  And apparently NBC wasn’t ready for that.


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