Consumer Insights: TV Gets Social

stuart-schneiderman by Stuart Schneiderman, Consumer Insights & Measurement, Viacom Media Networks

When Networks Network: TV Gets Social,” a joint quest between Viacom and Viacom International Media Networks, investigates the interplay between TV and social media. Beyond seeking visibility into what drives Viacom’s audiences to social media, the multi-country study sought to understand how social media impacts viewing behaviors. After discovering that viewers engage in an average of 10 TV-related activities on social media platforms on a weekly basis, the research went deeper to uncover three key types of motivations leading to TV-related social media activities: Functional, Communal and Playful. It also unearthed the long-questioned value of social media markers including Facebook “likes” and Twitter “follows” when it comes to TV.

Key Findings

Out of 24 social media activities tracked, three distinct types of motivations for TV-related social media use emerged: Functional (searching for show schedules, news, exclusives); Communal (personal branding, connecting with others); and Playful (gaming, entering contests).

 Function: Information First

Function trumps all over motivating factors — including socializing — when it comes to TV-related social media use. Viewers use social media sites to:

  • stay informed about air dates and times (44%);
  • keep up with the latest show news (45%); and
  • access exclusive show info (37%), video (36%) and plot clues (36%).

Functional motives are stronger for teens and young adults.

  • Viewers 13-17 are most likely to use social media to search for show schedules and exclusive videos.
  • Viewers 18-24 are most likely to search for the latest show news and to access spoilers.

 Communal: The Value of a Facebook ‘Like’ or a Twitter ‘Follower’

Communal factors are the second most common reason for engaging in TV-related social media use – often satisfied by “liking” a show on Facebook or following it on Twitter.

  • 34% use social media to brand themselves and share taste.
  • 28% use social media to either connect with the show or to connect with other fans.

After “liking” or “following” a show, viewers are a full 75% more likely to watch that show. They also watch more in an average of three different ways (live, stream, reruns), and engage more with TV shows and channels on digital platforms:

  • 41% access its social media more, 39% visit the show/channel site more often and 27% are more likely download related apps.

 Playful: Social TV Games Matter

  • Playful experiences drive TV-related social media activities, including playing for rewards (24% to get freebies or enter contests) or playing games (25% games; 24% quizzes/polls).

A) Over 30% play TV show-related social media games on a weekly basis.

B) Of the social gamers who watch a TV show and play the related game, about 75% play off-season.

  • TV-related gaming is a persistent touch-point and a way to connect year-round with viewers.
  • Social media games help drive viewership, with around 30% of respondents having gamed before ever watching a show.
  • About half reported watching a show more due to the show’s social media game.
  • Game shows, comedy and reality shows come in as the top genres for gaming.

Social media-fueled show discovery uniquely and positively impacts live tune-in. Viewers are significantly more likely to watch a show premiere on live TV when the show is discovered via social media.

  • In terms of sources of show discovery, social media ranked third (39%), behind promos (54%) and word of mouth (50%). (The exception is Brazil, where social media ranked even higher, second only to TV promos.)
  • 70% are likely to watch the live debut of a show discovered via social media, versus 48% if discovered elsewhere.
  • 41% are likely to watch a show live past its first season if discovered via social media, versus 28% if discovered elsewhere.
  • Drivers of live tune-in from social media include Facebook friend’s comment, a show’s post, or a friend “liking” the show.

The Methodology:

International online surveys were conducted in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Brazil and Russia with more than 5,000 Viacom viewers ages 13-49 who use two or more social media platforms on at least a weekly basis. The study is based on social media diaries in the U.S., as well as online communities in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.


Through these findings, the following “Deadly Sins of Social Media” emerged – guidelines applicable not just to media companies, but translatable to any brand or advertiser hoping to connect with consumers.

  • Do not provide essential show information;
  • Fail to feature fresh, engaging content;
  • Post to the point of spamming; and
  • Try too often to get consumers to buy products.


Consumer Insights: New Millennials Keep Calm & Carry On

by Alison Hillhouse, MTV Research

Millennials may be the largest generational cohort in history, but they’re hardly homogenous. In a pivotal study, MTV unearthed two distinct groups within the generation. “The New Millennials Will Keep Calm and Carry On” investigates the shifting dynamics between older and younger Millennials and revealed that the new wave of Millennials, aged 13-17, is different from the older wave in key ways, including its unique relationship with technology and optimistic approach to the challenges in this group’s universe.

 Key Findings

Younger Millennials are rapidly adapting to changing “environmental” conditions and navigate life by honing specialized, self-taught survival skills.

  • Over three-quarters of Millennials today ages 14-17 “worry about the negative impact that today’s economy will have on me or my future.”
  • 60% of 14-17 year olds say, “I believe that my generation will be worse off than my parents’ generation,” and 60% feel “very stressed about getting into a good high school or college.”
  • 57% of young MIllennials in 2013 agreed with the statement: “If I want to do something, no one is going to stop me,” down from 71% in 2010.
  • 69% say, “I put more pressure on myself than others put on me.”
  • Over one-third of younger Millennials say they “plot out escape plans when in public places, because of events like Sandy Hook.”
  • Although half are scared of violence at school, they seem to have adopted a practical “Keep Calm and Carry On” mentality.

Younger Millennials are even closer with their Gen X parents, and they’re heeding the advice of their pragmatic parents who don’t say, “the world is your oyster,” but rather, “you’ve got to create your own oyster.”

  • 84% of 14-17 year olds say, “I know why I shouldn’t do something, because my parents explain the consequences to me.”
  • In 2013, 68% of young Millennials agree with the statement: “My parents are like a best friend to me,” up 10% from 2010.
  • 84% agree, “It’s really important to always be prepared and have a plan.”

Young Millennials are consummate brand managers, honing their unique personal brand to stand out and specialize in a world that’s increasingly competitive.

  • They are “DIY Learners” and leverage YouTube videos and niche online communities to delve into the intricacies of their passion. 

– Many have established a unique voice in Tumblr or Instagram as the person who posts photos related to “all things neon” or “romantic Victorian” or “90’s grunge.”

  • 84% say, “I love being an expert in things,” while 78% claim “someone I know would consider me an expert in at least one thing.”
  • 7 in 10 say, “I learn how to do things on YouTube” or “I go to YouTube for DIY videos.”

Young Millennials have a unique relationship with technology. Unlike older Millennials who were pioneers in the “Wild West” of social media, today’s young Millennials are “tech homesteaders” – savvier about how to use technology, interested in building “gated” groups, curating, filtering and choosing to selectively unplug.

Though increasingly physically protected by parents, teens’ web behavior is not as closely monitored. However, they’ve taken it upon themselves to filter out what’s overwhelming to them online.

  • About 7 in 10 say I have the freedom online to go anywhere or do anything I want.
  • 88% try to avoid cruel videos online, 76% try to avoid people being mean to each other and 74% try to avoid videos about violence.
  • Overall, they are slimming down their social networks and finding niche/private places to share in a controlled environment, whether it’s Snapchat or a locked Instagram feed.

They consciously take time to self-soothe, disconnect and de-stress, increasingly “mono-tasking” and focusing on hands-on activities like baking, sewing or crafting.

  • Some claim their dependence on social media is overrated: one teen female says, “My parents Facebook more than I do.” 
  • 8 in 10 young Millennials agree that “Sometimes I just need to unplug and enjoy the simple things.”
  • 82% of young Millennials agree “when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I like to stop and just do one thing at a time.”
  • More than half (57%) of young Millennials like to take a break from technology to make things with their hands.


As the second wave of Millennials approaches adulthood (18-24 years old) in the next few years, it’s important to distinguish between the different groups of Millennials. By understanding their differences, marketers and brands can better connect with this younger and uniquely optimistic and practical segment of the generation.


This study was based on a combination of quantitative results (1,800 Young Millennials ages 14-17; 700 Older Millennials ages 18-25; 300 Gen Xers; 300 Boomers), and qualitative studies (in-home ethnographies/friendship groups, online nationwide qualitative including Instagram Journals, Diaries, etc., older sibling focus groups and expert interviews).


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Carly Rae Jepsen sings ‘Call Me Maybe’ at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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