Skip to main content

MBPT Spotlight: Facebook Tops Usage By Discovery Networks’ Viewers When Talking About TV

A survey conducted by Discovery Communications finds that more than half the viewers of its networks typically check social media sites while watching TV, and the first place a majority of them go to share their thoughts about TV is Facebook.

Discovery’s Curiosity Lab conducted the survey of 455 viewers of one or more of the company’s U.S. TV networks, who also own a mobile device. The participants were recruited through Discovery’s Influencer Panel, and the information is contained in a report titled “Social Platform Preference and TV: What is the New Watercolor?”

Among the findings: While a majority of Discovery viewers choose Facebook first to comment about TV and the shows they are watching, the social space they reach out to is also very fragmented, with nearly one-third of viewers looking at platforms beyond Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for social interaction.

What are TV viewers doing on Facebook related to their TV viewing? The survey found that 48% of respondents select Facebook as the place they go to first to share their thoughts about TV programming with 44% looking at Facebook to see what other people are saying about the shows they are watching.

Facebook is also checked most often to see what people think about a live sporting event being aired on TV and, of particular interest to marketers, 40% of respondents say they would choose Facebook first if they were looking to share their thoughts on an ad they saw on TV.

The survey found Twitter to be the preferred platform for interacting with TV stars, primarily because stars have embraced it as a way to reach out to viewers and fans.

“Twitter has proven to be a valuable platform in facilitating viewer engagement, as it has become standard practice for the casts of popular TV shows to connect with audiences while their shows are airing and in between episodes and seasons,” the report says.

More than one-third of viewers surveyed by Discovery said Twitter was their first choice for interacting with stars of the shows they were watching, compared to 22% who named Facebook as their first choice.

Texting is also a popular activity among TV viewers, the survey found, and 21% of viewers selected texting as their “platform” of choice for live conversations about what they are currently watching on TV. That’s second behind Facebook, selected by 35%.

Why else do viewers text related to the TV they’re watching? Of those surveyed, 20% use it to discuss something recorded on a DVR, 17% use it to discuss something they are watching on Netflix, 16% share thoughts about a favorite show and 15% share real-time thoughts about awards shows.

“With more programming being time-shifted or binge-watched, viewers are increasingly faced with finding balance between avoiding spoilers and staying part of the water cooler conversation,” the report says. “The intimacy provided by texting may serve to make it an increasingly relied upon option for many viewers.”

While TV companion apps are growing in popularity, they are not viewers’ first destination for social interaction around TV, the survey found. TV companion apps are most relevant for fan interaction with show cast members, and are most popular among “super fans” that are looking for a deeper connection to the shows they are watching.

The report concludes by stating, “As viewing options and behaviors continue to evolve, so do the ways in which viewers can share their TV experience with others. Audiences now have more outlets than ever to discuss their favorite shows, but not all experiences are created equal. Much like they do for content consumption, viewers will continue to seek out the social platform that best fits their need.”