Advanced Television

4 in 10 use social apps whilst watching TV

October 25, 2012

According to research from The Diffusion Group, 38 per cent of US. adult broadband users currently participate in “social TV” activity at least a couple times per year.

Social TV viewing is defined as the simultaneous use of mobile technology (i.e., smartphones or tablets) to communicate and interact with currently-viewed TV content or with others regarding said content.

Michael Greeson, Director of Research and author of the new report, says the widespread diffusion of broadband services combined with rapid innovation in mobile technology has led to a convergence between what were previously distinct experiences: watching TV versus using a “computing” device. “As TDG predicted when the iPad was first introduced, in short order dual-device behavior would emerge, and that is precisely what is now taking place.”

Aside from changing the essence of one’s “personal TV experience,” Greeson notes that social TV is subtly working its way into long-standing business models, in particular those relating to advertising, subscription services, and on-demand applications. “The real-time interaction of consumers with the TV programme itself, not to mention other viewers, provides broadcasters with the opportunity to identify and market to finely filtered consumer segments with highly curated offerings.” Such motives are in part behind Comcast’s recent investment in Zeebox, which has introduced new customised second-screen experiences for more than 150 of NBC’s programmes. Time Warner, though not an investor in Zeebox, is expected to do the same for key HBO properties.

Other key findings of TDG’s new report include:
– 38 per cent of adult broadband users are by TDG’s definition Social TV Users (STUs), engaging in such behaviour at least a couple times a year.
– Smartphones are the most popular device for social TV engagement, twice as popular as tablets (used by 87 per cent and 42 per cent of STUs respectively). Only 13 per cent of STUs use both smartphones and tablets for these activities.
– 56 per cent of STUs are between the ages of 18 and 34.
– Research discerns two segments of Social TV Users: Talkers (those that only talk or chat about the programme they are viewing via instant messaging or social networks) and  Engagers (those who not only talk but use so-called synching apps to interact directly with the TV show).
– STU Talkers are disproportionately female with an average age of 37, while Engagers, are primarily male with an average age of 34.
– Engagers are significantly more likely than Talkers to make use of fee-based OTT services like Netflix.

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