Colourtext creates biggest ever TV + Twitter study of its kind

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In April 2014 Colourtext collected and analysed every tweet that could be positively identified as coming out of the Republic of Ireland on behalf of TAM Ireland, the country’s official TV ratings agency.  The objective was to better understand the strong connection between social media and TV.

A total of 15,600,000 messages were found to be generated by 170,000 Irish Twitter users. To our knowledge this Twitter study is the biggest and most comprehensive independent study of social media use in a single national market.  It’s findings are important for other advanced markets and media cultures like the US and UK.

The Sunday Times in Ireland has written an article about the study (with colour images), the text of which is copied  below.  You can read an Executive Summary of the TAM Ireland report here.

The television has been revolutionised

What’s on the box is one of the biggest preoccupations of Ireland’s Twitter users, reveals first study

Siobhán Maguire Published: 13 July 2014

IRISH Twitter users are telly addicts, 43% of them tweet at least once each month about TV shows they are watching [this first line has been corrected to address an editorial inaccuracy in the original article]

Findings from a study, the first of its kind, to monitor how people in Ireland use Twitter, also highlight an obsession with sports, our bodies, food and music.

TAM Ireland, the country’s television audience measuring service, commissioned the research, which studied 15.6m tweets by 170,000 users during April.

Jason Brownlee, the chief executive officer of Colourtext, a British data firm that conducted the study, said: “The results show us that patterns of peak viewing and the times when we use social media frequently overlap. It’s therefore not surprising that viewing and social media use often go hand in hand with each other.

“Viewers use social media to read other people’s live comments about a show and sometimes contribute a comment of their own. This adds to the fun and sense of engagement an audience feels with a programme. We expect this ‘second screen’ dynamic to play a bigger role in television formats in the future.”

The programme most tweeted about was the fourth series of Game of Thrones, which premiered in Ireland on Sky Atlantic on April 7. The second most tweeted about show was WWE WrestleMania, a pay-per-view event watched online. Tonight with Vincent Browne, TV3’s current affairs show, which is on each week from Monday to Thursday was the third most popular forum.

“The most highly tweeted shows are relatively niche ‘passion’ franchises such as Game of Thrones and WWE WrestleMania,” said Brownlee. “A vibrant social media fan culture has grown up around these shows, reflecting deep passion and commitment.

“In previous studies, we have suggested such shows can be poor ratings performers but their long-term content franchise value can be massive and often lies beyond the scope of conventional advertising revenue streams. This study backs up those findings.

“For instance, Star Trek’s early ratings in the 1960s were so poor that CBS threatened to pull the show after the first series. However, an unprecedented letter-writing campaign by fans of the show stayed its execution.”

Jill McGrath, TAM Ireland’s chief executive, said: “The findings tell us that 43% of all contributors tweeted about television during April. This 43% are among the heaviest tweeters and are the chattering classes of the 21st century.

“TV content has a powerful influence over the content of other media. It is the medium around which all others revolve. We wanted to understand that conversation a little better, which is why we commissioned the study.”

McGrath said the findings about our TV/tweeting habits show that users are most active at 10pm during the week. At weekends, tweeting about telly peaks at around 8pm when programmes such as The Voice of Ireland and Britain’s Got Talent are being aired.

“The two shows that generated the highest number of tweets in a five-minute period were WWE WrestleMania and EastEnders around the death of Lucy Beale [one of the show’s characters],” said McGrath.

The most popular sports tweets related to Manchester United being beaten by Bayern Munich in the Champions League; the future of its then manager, David Moyes; closely followed by speculation that Liverpool had a chance of winning the Premier League title.

People also felt compelled to share what they were eating as they were tweeting, or what they planned to eat later. There was a lot of moaning about diets and sharing of guilt over indulging in treats or sugary snacks. Commentary on personal appearance or how another person looked was another popular topic.

“Tweets are often written when someone is alone, which can make it feel like an intimate kind of communication, even though you’re wide-casting it to a large group of friends and followers,” said Brownlee.

Eugenia Siapera, chair of social media studies MA at Dublin City University, said determining a strong link between a social media outlet such as Twitter and television made sense.

“What is being tweeted is what we deal with and talk about in our everyday lives and to expect Twitter to be any different is counter-intuitive,” she said.

Siapera said that while politics and social issues are also important they are overshadowed in social media by lighter, less serious matters.

If you’d like to learn more about the methodology or data from this study please get in touch - we’d be happy to answer your questions.

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