American Idol Sets Social TV Record: 1.2 Million Social Comments for Final Episode

Conversations taking place on social networks are leading viewers to new shows, according to new research by Horowitz Associates. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of respondents with internet access began watching a TV show after reading about it on a social network or blog; that increased to 23% for respondents ages 18-34.

And according to eMarketer, viewers are “no longer content to watch shows passively” and are looking to social networks for recommendations and to share their own opinions.  1 in 10 respondents have posted on social media about a show or movie they watched – that number jumps to 13% among those ages 18-34.  While only 6% of the general respondents would “post, comment, tweet, or participate in online forums” about a show as they were watching it, 8% of 18-34 year-olds did so.

American Idol’s Season 11 provides plenty of evidence for social TV engagement.  The finale episode of Season 11 was the most social TV series episode ever, smashing the previous record of 804k comments with a whopping 1.2 million social media comments, according to new data from Bluefin Labs.

But the numbers for social media interaction fueled by TV are still significantly lower than engagement with non-social online content: 39% (of those with internet access) used the internet to search for more information about a show on TV, and 23% had visited a website or app that provided more content about a TV show, according to the Horowitz study.

“The potential power of social media to drive TV viewership—and perhaps even to drive consumers back to live, real-time viewing—is enormous,” said Adriana Waterston, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Horowitz Associates.  But she also stressed that “consumers don’t want to feel ‘marketed to’—they want to feel in control of their social media experience.”

Is social media really transforming the way TV viewers hear about, engage with, and communicate about television content?   What do you think?