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SBD Global/April 29, 2014/Media

NBCUniversal Research Finds Social Media Not A 'Game-Changer' For TV Viewership

Twitter and Facebook "have spent the past year trumpeting a virtuous cycle between people watching television and using social media," according to Emily Steel of the FINANCIAL TIMES. But, in spite of the buzz, NBCUniversal’s Head of Research Alan Wurtzel said that social media “is not a game changer yet” in influencing TV viewing. The statement "is based on media habits observed during the Sochi Winter Olympics." Comcast’s NBCU held exclusive media rights for the Games in the U.S., airing more than 1,500 hours of coverage across both broadcast and cable TV, the web and mobile. NBCU "had expected social media to have a dominating effect on viewership for the Games." However, during the 18-day period of coverage, just 19% of Olympic viewers "posted about the Games on social media, the broadcaster found." Wurtzel said that a show’s ratings "are more likely to drive activity on social media rather than vice versa." Wurtzel: “A lot of people want to show that they are on the cutting edge. One of the things that is on the cutting edge is social media. Why wouldn’t I want to say to you, ‘We have a potent new way in which we can drive ratings?'" He added, “It just isn’t true. I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers.” On Twitter, there were 10.6 million Olympic-related messages posted by 3 million unique users. A total of 23 million people "saw tweets about the Olympics." On Facebook, about 20 million people posted, commented, shared or liked something related to the Olympics, with those posts reaching a total of 150 million users. Ad execs cautioned that the results "could be skewed by the fact that the Olympics draws mass audiences who are likely to tune in regardless of social media buzz" (FT, 4/27).
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