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Popular programmes drive social chatter

6 February 2013

Twitter’s reported decision to buy social TV analytics firm Bluefin Labs, demonstrates the close relationship between the social network and TV.

Paul Lee, director of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte, comments: “People love to make comments about the TV they watch - a proportion do so to be heard; the majority to see what others are saying. Twitter is a fantastic online market place that allows succinct, pithy comments to reach mass audiences.

“Twitter amplifies the appeal of TV for those who enjoy their programmes best served with back chat from their favourite commentators. Twitter provides backing vocals, not the lead vocals; it’s nigh impossible to follow a TV programme just from tweets alone. TV and Twitter are very much complements rather than competitors. Deloitte’s research found that 30% regularly communicate on Facebook or Twitter at the same time as watching television. The percentage of those tweeting about a particular television programme is tiny relative to the volume of viewers. A programme that has millions of viewers would, at most, generate tens of thousands of individual tweets - even if there may be hundreds of thousands of people reading the comments.  

“Another reason why Twitter meshes so serendipitously with TV is because comments have to be brief; they can be glanced at briefly without causing viewing to be interrupted. The volume of TV related discussions on social networks is so high that Twitter publishes a specific index of the most popular TV related tweets. The top 20 programmes tend to be soap operas, talent programmes and news programmes. Occasionally, a major sporting occasion will break into the top 20. A strong showing among social networks’ conversation helps with viewing figures, but is not integral to the ongoing success of a top 20 programme.”


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Laura Parsons
Deloitte LLP
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