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Summary:

Could Twitter have saved everyone’s favorite canceled show, Arrested Development? That’s one of the questions raised by a report released today that looks at the social engagement on TV viewers online. Turns out, viewers tweet because they want to help keep shows on the air.

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Updated. If Twitter had been as popular in 2006 as it is today, would Arrested Development still be on the air? That’s one of the questions that came to mind today when I read a new report from eMarketer that shows how both TV viewers and broadcasters are using social media these days.

First, some facts: 43 percent of U.S. TV viewers have used social media to engage with a TV show online. Some of this engagement is home-grown, based on our love of talking about the stuff we like online. But increasingly, it’s also the result of networks promoting Facebook and Twitter on air and using social media to get people excited about their content.

Case in point: People were already talking about Survivor on Twitter even before CBS embraced the service, with up to 15,000 tweets about the show sent out per episode last fall. But Twitter activity exploded once Survivor host Jeff Probst live-tweeted the show this spring, with as many as 54,000 people chiming in on Twitter the day of and day after each new episode aired on CBS.

The eMarketer report gathers a whole lot of data about interactions on Facebook and Twitter, but there are two more stats from TVGuide.com referenced in the eMarketer report that I found particularly interesting: When asked why they share information about what they’re watching on Facebook, 77 percent of viewers surveyed said that they wanted to simply tell their friends what’s on in their home. However, 66 percent said that they’re trying to “help keep my show on the air.” Now that’s loyalty — and it kind of makes you wonder if Twitter could have saved shows like Arrested Development.

The other data nugget, again originally from TVGuide.com, could be interesting for anyone weighing their options on where to engage with their audience. Most people use social media to talk about shows after they’ve watched them. However, 62 percent of people surveyed share something about a show on Twitter before it airs. On Facebook, this is only the case with about 47 percent. Engagement was also significantly higher on Twitter during the airing of a show (47 percent) than on Facebook (24 percent). In other words: If you want to let people know that a show is on and have an immediate impact on your live ratings, Twitter may work better than Facebook.

Update: This post was updated on 05/30 to clarify the original source of some of the data cited in the eMarketer report.

  1. Well as an ongoing campaign that has yet to work, search #SaveLieToMe on twitter and on google. An amazing international campaign was undertaken, and still Fox cancelled Lie To Me. Right now there is an ongoing effort to get another network to adopt the show. I am not sure twitter will ever trump the Neilson’s. But I sure would love to see this campaign suceed.Awesome video projects, well planned drives and nada

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  2. There still is no solid, confirmed tie to viewership ratings/numbers and social media activity. Everyone touts the number of tweets they got, but how many extra viewers or rating points did they get?

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    1. That is of course a really hard question to answer, simply because there are so many other factors playing into ratings. I think the closest evidence we have that social media matters are the audience records we’ve sen over the last few years for live TV events. How that translates to serialized content is really hard to say…

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  3. I can’t decipher which percentage factile corresponds to which social network, but FB is always going to be the better place to get results, until the user levels of each social site are the same, then 20% of 750Million, is always going to be higher than 70% of 200million.

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  4. Exhibit A: @bluthquotes on Twitter has close to 34,000 followers. For a show that’s been off the air for five years now.

    (Disclosure: me)

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  5. This is interesting as I do it all the time! Most recently just getting the word out about the new Futurama seasons on CC. I mostly post it to spread the word about a show I like, I usually never comment after a show, unless it was the horrible ending of LOST…. As for Arrested Development we’ll probably never know. You have shows like Family Guy and Futurama that came back after fan support and DVD/BluRay sales. It’s sad because Arressted Development was so good too, the best show no one ever watched…

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