How TV Intersects with Social Media

Social TV“Who is the Next Doctor?”

In August 2013, the BBC generated excitement and mystery around the 12th actor to assume the role of Doctor Who by posing this question on BBC stations throughout the world. On a special live broadcast, called Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, the network revealed the new actor (Peter Cataldi), and social media activity exploded. Fans flocked to Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Viggle to voice their opinions, making it the No. 1 ranked show with the most social media activity in a given day, according to

Doctor Who is one among many TV shows that receives a good amount of social media activity. Content creators, like the BBC, recognize the relationship between TV and social media and how one affects the other. But why is this happening? Why do people turn to social media as they watch TV?

To understand the connection between TV and social media, Viacom, the mass media heavyweight, conducted a study (May 2013), in search of answers to the following questions:

  • What drives audiences to social media?
  • How does social media activity affect viewing behavior?

The goal was to figure out how to extend the life of their programs beyond the televised broadcasts.  How can content creators drive conversations off-screen and strengthen connections between fans, shows and characters?

The study revealed three distinct motivations that drive TV viewers to social media:

  • Functional: Updates, news, schedules
  • Communal: Connect with shows and other fans
  • Playful: Show-related games, quizzes, freebies

In addition to Doctor Who, here are a few other examples that illustrate how TV and social media are intersecting and creating the new virtual, real-time water cooler:

  • Jimmy Fallon, host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, asked his audience to tweet made-up spoilers for the series finale of Breaking Bad with #fakebreakingbadspoilers. It became one of the top trending hashtags at the time.
  • Live programs – like the Oscar Awards and sports games — often receive a good amount of Twitter action because people can tweet as the action is happening. According to Trendrr.TV, the Super Bowl received three times more social media activity in 2013 than in 2012.
  • The Red Wedding episode of The Game of Thrones inspired a ton of tweets that resulted in even more blog posts, articles and YouTube videos.
  • CBS designated a week in April 2013 as “Tweet Week,” where TV-show celebs tweeted – along with their fans — as their respective programs were broadcasted. Fans and celebs were able to interact with each other.
  • AMC created the official Mad Men blog, but other indie blogs have cropped up that are just as popular, giving fans multiple ways to connect with the show.
  • Even Slingbox owners can watch their cable channels on their own Facebook page or invite their Facebook friends to watch in a web browser.

What other ways do TV and social media intersect for you? Go to Twitter (@Slingbox) and weigh in (#slingsocialTV).