The act of watching television has undergone an extensive transformation in recent years. The way in which most Americans watched television growing up is rapidly changing and continues to change every day. The main reason for this change? The internet of course. The internet seems to be our answer for everything and all changes in current society, but it is the source of change for its competing medium: television.
According to Nielson, the average American spends 41 hours a week consuming media from all screens. Screens can include tv, computer, smart phone and even tablets. Between 2007 and 2013, 2.5 million households have changed the way they get their media content, favoring other devices and services. A whopping five million homes now choose to get their content through these other screens instead of through typical television subscription services. Nielson calls these “zero-tv households” despite the fact that the majority of them own at least one television. These televisions are connected to the internet rather than a cable service provider. Instead 48 percent of these households are watching television content through subscription services such as Hulu, Netflix, or Roku.
These unique households are comprised of individuals under the age of 35 and who have no children. The majority of them cite cost as their main reason for not subscribing to a television service.
“In this economy having a Netflix subscription is what we can afford. With two young kids I could never watch my favorite shows when they air anyway so it just makes sense,” Philadelphia resident Roberta Pierce said.
Nielson plans to begin including these “zero-tv households” into their research for 2013 because they account for five percent of the market. Expanding research to include the new ways that consumers obtain their media and entertainment is a reaction to the evolving way that people are watching television.
Another change to television watching is the added aspect of social media. Social media is now so tightly intertwined with the act of watching television that many people won’t watch without their smart phones in hand. Smartphone usage while watching television can serve a multitude of purposes.
One purpose for using a smart phone while viewing is to look up information. People are looking up information about actors, programming, scheduling, and content found in commercials. Many commercials are using the smart phone app Shazam to encourage consumers to unlock secret content related to their products. They do this by using the Shazam app to “listen” to the commercial which then unlocks the content.
The most popular way people are using their smartphones to interact with what they are viewing is through social media. Twitter has become a hot spot for television commentary. Most television shows and commercials even display a specific hash tag to be used when talking about their topic.
Most live events that have high viewership also receive the most social media attention as well. The 2013 Oscars brought in 40.4 million viewers, up a full million from last year’s show. It prompted 6.4 million Oscar related tweets from 1.6 million different people. The most tweeted about moment of the night came when Jennifer Lawrence fell while walking to the stage to claim her Best Actress award. 44,000 tweets were sent commenting on her epic fall. It is also interesting to note that this moment came at 11:44pm for those watching on the East Coast, quite the late hour for many people to be awake, watching television and tweeting. First time host Seth MacFarlane brought in the most mentions of the night with 52,021 followed by Adele, who was nominated for Best Song, with 23,739.
One of the most tweeted events includes Osama Bin Laden’s death which registered 5,106 tweets per minute. This event is a particularly good example of the social media phenomenon. When President Obama came on television in the ten o’clock hour to declare to the world that Osama Bin Laden was dead the Philadelphia Phillies happened to be playing on Sunday night baseball at that exact time. Watching a baseball game in an enclosed stadium doesn’t usually give one much contact to the outside world but through social media the crowd was soon aware of the monumental news and could be seen and heard on Sunday Night Baseball chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A.”
Other television related events making the top tweeted moments list are: Beyonce revealing her baby bump on the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (8,868 tweets per second) Tim Tebow’s overtime touchdown pass to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 (9,420 tweets per second) and Madonna’s halftime show at the Super Bowl (10,245 tweets per second).
Social media provides an outlet for the masses to discuss these events as they are happening. It also allows for every person to feel as though they have a voice and that people are listening.
“I really enjoy tweeting along with live events. It is fun to get my opinion out and to also see that other people are thinking like I am about a specific moment or topic,” Drexel University senior, Juliana DeMarici said.
Live tweeting is also becoming popular during new episodes of prime time television. Most shows have their own Twitter account and tweet alongside fans, answering questions and tweeting hints and spoilers throughout the live broadcast. This past week new ABC show, The Taste, had its first season finale. Earlier in the day they held a live twitter chat with mentor chef, Ludo Lefebvre, where he answered fan’s questions for an hour. This allows for a much more in depth connection with the shows a person watches and the actors and characters they play.
Social Guide Intelligence is a Twitter analytics and audience engagement platform for US television which claims to give results and reflection in real time. Social Guide was established because Twitter and social media has transformed the “traditional television viewing experience.” They state that they harness “the real time social activity around linear television” which provides networks, brands, and agencies new ways to understand and reach the new social television audience. Producers and advertisers who recognize the new way people are watching television utilize Social Guide’s statistics to take advantage of a new generation of viewers.
Upon researching what they have to offer to unregistered users it gives a very interesting look into what people are taking about and interacting with based upon what they are viewing on television. Surprisingly the networks that were being the most talked about were ABC Family, FOX Soccer, FS Florida and SUN Sports. None of these networks show up as tops in the ratings but they are generating a lot of buzz on social media. This is great information that advertisers can use to their advantage for marketing their shows and products.
These are major changes occurring within the television medium that are still being researched and processed daily. Social media and alternative television subscriptions are just the scratch of the surface to where we could go in just a few short years.