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TV Viewers Carry the Conversation to Social Networks

Almost one in five viewers starts watching a show after reading about it online

Social media is fundamentally changing the way engaged viewers are watching and talking about their favorite programs. No longer content to watch shows passively, viewers are taking to social networks to get recommendations and share their own opinions on programs, making the digital realm the new host of “watercooler” discussions.

Research has also found that the conversations taking place on social networks are leading viewers to new shows. According to a January 2012 poll of US heads of TV households conducted by marketing research company Horowitz Associates, 19% of respondents had begun watching a show after reading about it on a social network or blog. Viewers also headed online to find out additional information about shows and content. Twenty-three percent of those polled said they had visited a website or used an app that provided more content about a show, while 39% had used the internet to search for more information about something they saw on television.

Viewers are not only availing themselves of new paths to content, they also are now watching shows in a variety of ways. More than one-third of respondents watched TV programs on an over-the-top device or via another alternative platform at least once a month, according to the survey. Streaming was the most popular way for viewers to access online content on their TV, slightly ahead of using a PC. A much smaller number of respondents said they used a handheld device—such as an iPad, iPod or smartphone—to watch content.

But the survey also found that the TV set still commands attention in the living room. Respondents watched an average of 123.7 hours per month of programming on a TV. In comparison, they watched online TV streamed to the traditional television for only 4.4 hours per month. However, those ages 18 to 34 watched more than twice as much streamed television on the TV as did the overall group, reflecting the younger generation’s fracturing viewing habits.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Mobile Phone Shoppers Show Growing Preference for Text Marketing” and “Mobile Social Network Usage Catches Fire in France.”

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