TV viewers that interact with social media on a second screen are actually more engaged in the programming than those watching alone or without social media, according to new research from the Time Warner Research Council. While social media interaction changes the way viewers watch TV, it doesn’t mean they see less – in fact, quite the opposite.
The study tracked the engagement of 126 Millennial viewers watching episodes of “Conan” and “TMZ” along with their varying levels of social behavior (AdAge). The researchers used biometric monitoring and eye tracking to effectively measure engagement.
- viewer engagement while watching with a friend or connecting with a friend over social media was 1.3x higher than for viewers watching alone and not using social media
- viewer engagement among those co-viewing apps (that allow conversation simultaneous to the program) was 1.2x higher than for those viewing along without a social app
- despite the distraction of social media, viewers were more engaged during commercials than expected: eye-tracking results revealed that viewers responded to audio cues during both the shows and commercial breaks
Viewers also responded well to brands supporting the second-screen: AT&T sponsored a Team Coco app to use while watching “Conan,” and viewers who used the app were 33% more likely to view the brand favorably.
According to one female participant, “I would be less into a show if someone took away all my social media, because you wouldn’t have somebody else to share that with and get them involved into it.” (AdAge)
Why does social media keep viewers more engaged? According to Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting, “When they find something engaging on the TV, they pay attention. When their interest wanes, in the absence of a second screen they could change the channel, get up, read a magazine, etc. With a second screen that allows live social engagement, they have more reason to stay on-channel with their friend.”