Social TV Begins: Rebuilding TV Audiences Through Social Networks

Circa 2009 to 2013

Though viewership for live television broadcasts was declining, around 2010 it was observed that events such as the winter Olympics and the Grammys were drawing more viewers and more buzz because of the phenomenon of social television.  The rebound happened at least partly because of new viewing habits: while people watched TV they used smart phones or laptops to swap texts, tweets, and status updates about celebrities, characters, and even commercials.

"The MIT Media Lab has held a graduate class on Social TV since 2009. In 2012, faculty at the Wharton School of Business launched a Social TV Lab to study the link between what is said on television and what is shared simultaneously with the public on social media about shows and advertisements. Other research organizations active in Social TV include British Telecom, Motorola Research and Microsoft Research" (Wikipedia article on Social Television, accessed 10-07-2013).

"Marie-José Montpetit, an invited scientist at MIT's Research Lab for Electronics, has been working for several years on social TV--a way to seamlessly combine the social networks that are boosting TV ratings with the more passive experience of traditional TV viewing. Her goal is to make watching television something that viewers in different places can share and discuss--and to make it easier to find something to watch.

"Carriers, networks, and content producers hope that making it easier for viewers to link up with friends will help them hold on to their audiences rather than losing them to services like Hulu, which stream shows over the Internet. And opening TV to social networking could make it easier for companies to provide personalized programming" (, accessed 10-07-2013).

On October 6, 2013 The New York Times published an article announcing that Nielsen had begun measuring Twitter posts about television, providing a more complete view of social TV for advertisers.

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