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As social media becomes the new water cooler, it’s influencing TV viewing

Take a look at your feeds on any social media platform and you’ll very likely see friends and family talking about the latest TV shows; shows like Game of Thrones or Modern Family could be regular appearances on your news feeds. But these digital water coolers actually play a key part in TV viewership, says ShareThis in a recent study (via Mediapost), a social media content marketing company based in Palo Alto, California. A previous study, conducted by Nielsen in March, also shows that social media has an effect on TV viewership.

The ShareThis study (which compiled its own data alongside Nielsen’s) shows a strong correlation between social engagement and tuning in to watch TV. Users who clicked on content regarding a TV show were more likely to view said TV show. On average, ShareThis says 16 percent of viewers share what they watched on social media, but it varies widely when broken down into genres: 47 percent of reality/variety show viewers share what they watched on social media, but less than 10 percent shared comedy shows.

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When it comes to new TV series, social engagement was, on average, 25 percent higher versus 13 percent for recurring series. Viewing shows on streaming services such as Netflix showed double the social engagement than viewing on broadcast TV (31 percent versus 15 percent).

Drama fans (34 percent of those polled) in particular waited 24 hours to talk about their shows on social media, while reality and variety show viewers (70 percent) discussed the show in real-time.

The type of device and social media platform used was also taken into account. Tablets, smartphones, and Twitter were all being used during the show, yet within each hour before and after the show’s broadcast time, Facebook and desktops were more strongly preferred. In terms of gender, more women were likely to share on Facebook, while men preferred Twitter.