A Nation of Chatterboxes: How Twitter Is Changing TV

This week, several media outlets have been getting a bit excited by a report which shows how the average Brit spends two months of every year watching TV , but when you think about it, the statistic isn’t that outrageous.

In these financial times, television is the cheapest and most flexible form of entertainment available to Joe Public after a hard day at the coalface and with broadcasters making content available in more ways than you could shake a remote controller at, it’s no surprise to hear that we’re consuming several hours a day. And we haven’t even started talking about the shocking British weather yet..

A far more interesting nugget of information was the revelation that around a fifth of TV viewers under the age of 35 regularly engage in ‘chatterboxing’ (commenting on a programme on social media sites via a laptop or smart-phone) as they watch television. This trend goes against the continued rise of Catch-Up TV and 24% of social media savvy viewers told an ICM Poll that they always try to watch their favourite programmes live so they can join in the online conversation, with a further 19% saying they watch live because they fear that ‘spoilers’ will crop up in their Facebook or Twitter feeds.

So essentially, the industry is seeing the rise of two opposing phenomena which could eventually collide in an event that might endanger the very fabric of time and space. Well maybe not.. but there’s no denying that over the next couple of years we may see TV viewers split into three clearly defined groups; those who watch most of their programming on catch-up, those who watch live and interact with other viewers on Twitter and those who either don’t understand or don’t care about Catch-up TV or social media, or elderly people as they’re also known.

This may sound like bad news for advertisers, who will have to work harder to pin down their target consumers, but some marketing boffins are suggesting that this won’t be the case. Many within the advertising industry had feared that the rise and rise of Twitter & Co would see social and commercial media clashing, yet it seems that chatterboxing could provoke a coming together between the two. As such advertisers are now working out how they can get at the people who engage in ‘Second Screen Viewing’ and there are already Social TV applications on the market that have been developed for those well ahead of the curve. As you might have guessed, these formats weren’t created for a laugh, but to make money by including “click to buy” options, so users can directly purchase products advertised on TV. How effective this tactic will be remains to be seen – at this stage advertisers are experimenting, but you can be sure that they’ll find a way of infiltrating which ever screen you prefer to use.

“It’s difficult to guess what this is going to be like in two or even three years’ time.” said Emma Mulqueeny, from developer network Rewired State. “Advertising is now far more about getting their news online, some on television, talking about it, recording it… so television is going to become a tool that is in our suite of entertainment.”

So what do you make of this new phenomenon? Are you a Chatterboxer?

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