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Live TV drives up to 87% of social Twitter engagement during primetime

by Scott Davies,  06-Feb-2017 15:22:38

Despite wide-spread debate about whether Linear TV is dying, it’s clear that live TV is still king. For most people, watching television is a real-time, shared experience.

A recent report by the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) explores the close relationship between TV and social engagement. The report, aptly named #TVisSocial, has found that TV programs make up 79% of trending Twitter topics during primetime.

Watching TV has always been a social experience, even before the internet people would gather around to tune in with their friends and families, discussing what they were viewing. Today we’re seeing more than ever that TV is not a passive medium with millions of people taking to social media to talk about the content they’re consuming live.

Why are people compelled to engage on social media around programming?

VAB puts it well:

“Because TV consistently creates and captures moments that are exciting, entertaining, humorous, enlightening, uplifting, aspirational, inspirational and educational...moments that people almost immediately share and talk about online.”

Live TV content fosters emotional connections that encourage audiences to engage. Online conversations are often driven by the shared experiences viewers have around relatable topics.


While not surprising, the findings of this report were exciting for us as it reiterates ideas that we at are passionate about and believe in. Harnessing audience engagement around programming and TV ad campaigns is something we see the benefits of everyday. A TV ad campaign for Oykos yoghurt is one of the latest examples of how capturing an audience with a call-to-action to participate can increase social audience and activity. Viewers were enthusiastic to share photos of themselves and a message about why they should feature in the campaign to Facebook for chance to be on TV. As a result, the brand saw thousands of entries, shares and likes. The interactive campaign also resulted in them growing their Facebook audience by 30%.

People are engaging in all kinds of TV content, however the study found that sports dominated social activity, followed by entertainment and news.


Source: VAB custom analysis of Top 10 trending Twitter Topics each night (8:15p, 9:15p, 10:15p, 11:15p) during 4-week time period (10/10-2016 – 11/6/2016).  Results include both “direct” and “related” TV topics

While most activity is about everyday shows and topics, big TV moments can be amplified by social media. People are eager to talk about iconic moments that happen across entertainment, politics, sport and news and voice their thoughts online.

Jason Wiese, Vice President of Strategic Insights for VAB told The Drum:

“Ultimately, the study is a snapshot that helps dispel some of the myths around [television] viewing, like people aren’t watching live TV anymore, TV’s losing scale…the abundance of TV viewing is still live.”

This speaks volumes to us as we’ve seen the successes that major broadcasters such as ITV are having by interacting with their live social audiences. ITV Daytime is including social comments, images and videos, as well as asking the audience to vote socially on key moments to make their shows more interactive. As a result, they’ve seen increases in social engagement and reach.

“Just as Warhol said, in the future, everyone will have their 15mins of fame but with social media, this has turned into 15secs and we needed to embrace that more than we had been. During a live news or magazine show, we are flooded by audience-derived content and in order to capitalise on that we needed to reflect this on-screen - and quickly!” Tim Guilder of ITV Daytime told

There are clearly exciting opportunities for broadcasters to capture the social conversation around their content and engage with their audiences across platforms to increase viewership, dwell time and social engagement.


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