We’ve seen several studies of social media activity during live TV broadcasts, but we wanted to take a broader view. We wanted to understand how fans stay engaged with their favorite shows throughout the week.
Using data from the Tumblr firehose, we looked at the social activity around five popular television shows from five days before and after an episode aired. What we found is that the majority of viewer engagement is actually outside of the show’s narrow time slot.
While the episode is airing, there’s a huge spike in check-ins and one-off comments that let users stay connected without distracting them from the episode. That kind of content, however, tapers off immediately after the broadcast, and fans move to media-rich environments like Tumblr to share content that recaps their favorite scenes, dissects details of the episode, and speculates on what’s to come. All told, the broadcast window accounts for only 39% of the activity around a show. The vast majority happens in between airing, and it happens on Tumblr.
Knowing how and when fans are engaging with their shows is important for broadcasters trying to fuel the online conversation, create advocates for their shows, and increase viewership. They’re already creating the content that fans want to see, now they should share it where their fans are.
Source: Social TV viewership on Tumblr, 2014.