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Nielsen report says social media cuts down on timeshifted TV




cbs appFor most people, fall means back-to-school, a change in the weather and the very first rumblings of the holiday season. For me, fall means a whole new line-up of shows on TV! I’m counting the days until the return of Sleepy Hollow and the start of the new series Gotham.

I’m actually surprised that networks premiere so many of their big shows in the fall. Thanks to DVR’s and digital on-demand options, we don’t watch TV the way we used to. Networks and advertisers were forced to give up the old fashioned overnight ratings reports. Now, it’s all Live plus 7.

But wait! According to this new study by Nielsen, the tide might be shifting yet again, thanks to social media.

Nielsen’s first-quarter 2014 Cross Platform Report shows that the average adult aged 18 and over now watches 5 hours and 10 minutes of live TV and 34 minutes of time-shifted TV per day.

That’s a 3% increase in live TV viewing from 2012 to 2013. What does this have to do with social media? A lot. If you’re a TV fan, there’s nothing worse than seeing a spoiler Tweet on a show you’ve time shifted. If it’s a wildly popular shows like Game of Thrones, the only way to avoid live airing spoilage is to turn off your phone and stay off the internet! Or, you could just watch it live like everyone else.

In Nielsen’s study, 15% of views said they enjoyed TV more when social media was involved. That’s because watching with social is like having a viewing party with hundreds of fans. And it’s even more exciting when a cast or crew member pops in with their comments about the episode.

But social media isn’t just for second screeners. Social also drives people to tune in to shows in the first place. In 2013, 25% of those surveyed said social media made them aware of more programs. That’s up from 18% in 2012.

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A lot of this is coming from the networks and studios. Everyone has embraced social media as if it was a long lost relative. Almost every show on TV has a Twitter channel, a Facebook page and a special hashtag. Some shows also have Instagram accounts and check out the Bravo TV Pinterest page with 99,500 followers.

As good as the networks are, the fans do it even better. There are thousands of social media accounts devoted to specific shows such as Supernatural, Sherlock, Pretty Little Liars and even more posters who just like to talk TV often or occasionally.

Last week, Sharknado 2 took the top slot on the Nielsen Social Ratings chart with a unique audience number of 5.5 million. That’s the number of individual Twitter accounts that Tweeted at least once about the show.

The Bachelorette came in second for uniques but slayed them in the Impressions department with 58.6 million. Sharknado only had 67.2 million impressions. (NOTE: original numbers seemed oddly low to me and sure enough, Nielsen has since corrected the data.)

You don’t have to be a TV network or TV advertiser to make these numbers work for you. Are you in the fashion biz? Do a weekly rundown of the top fashions on TV. B2B biz? Talk about lessons learned from Shark Tank or Scandal. It’s not hard to make a TV connection – just one word of advice – don’t fake it. Get your facts wrong and TV fans will never let you hear the end of it. So now you have a good excuse to watch more TV this fall – it’s just marketing homework after all.