TV: Still Social After All These Years

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Are Facebook, Twitter and their ilk changing the nature of TV viewing — or are they just replicating what generations of boob-tubers have done for years?

A new report from Ericsson finds that 62% of TV viewers with broadband access use social media while watching television weekly, an 18-point increase from last year. The report is available to download here.

Surprising? Not really. Especially when you realize that 77% of TV viewers still socialize the old-fashioned way: by talking to other people in the same room. That’s also up from last year, according to the survey — and in fact, people are doing more things in general in front of the TV set. (Is this some kind of economic indicator?)

Practically from its inception, television has been a hot topic of conversation.

There may not be as many televised cultural touchstones these days that wholly capture the world’s attention like, say, the 1969 moon landing. But this summer’s 2012 London Olympic Games on TV certainly lit up the socialsphere (though to be sure, in the U.S. some of it was bellyaching about NBC’s coverage), and this week’s Republican National Convention and Hurricane Isaac are providing prime television-fed social fodder.

So we’re using new tools to talk about TV — millions of us are. As of June 2012, Facebook had 955 million monthly active users worldwide while Twitter had more than 500 million registered accounts including at least 140 million in the U.S.

I think the full implications of social media on TV have yet to unfold. But my hunch is that even with the dynamic, rapid-fire water-cooler of social media, we’ll still basically discover and talk about television the way we always have. Probably with just a little bit more snark.

Look, we like what we like. I’m not gonna tune in to TLC’s flinch-inducing Here Comes Honey Boo Boo just because I’ve seen a bunch of tweets about it.

Other findings from the Ericsson ConsumerLab’s TV & Video Consumer Trend Report 2012: 66% of women use social services while watching TV, versus 58% of men. Twenty-five percent of consumers use social media to discuss TV while they are watching it.

The social TV results were based on responses from consumers in the U.S., China, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the U.K. That was a subset of Ericsson’s full online poll of 12,000 people in May 2012 in 12 countries.


Programming Note: Get a read on the future of multiscreen TV at our two events next month — TV’s Cloud Power, Sept. 13 in New York City; and the Next TV Summit, Sept. 20 in San Francisco.