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Is Social Networking Cannibalising TV Viewing?


I got all excited this morning when I saw a story on AdAge that mentioned social networks were stealing time from TV. The big bold heading was “Social Networks Steal Time From TV, but There’s Hope” (as in, there’s hope for TV advertisers because they can advertise on social networks instead). Mike Vorhaus, a consultant, or specifically, the “senior VP-managing director of new media and strategy for Frank N. Magid Associates”, had made the following observation after doing some research:

“With all this time being spent on social-networking sites, it isn’t surprising that many believe they are reducing other activities. Specifically, we asked people if they believed they were watching less TV since they started using social-networking sites. Over 25% of those using social-networking sites indicated that their TV viewing is being cannibalized.”

That stat tickled my fancy, but, as I keep realising the more I look deeper and harder into stats on social media marketing, it’s pretty much useless information. Mike’s research revealed that while 26% of people thought social networking had cut into their TV viewing time, 41% of people thought social networking had not cut into their TV time and 34% thought there had been no change. Which, if you spin the results the other way, means 74% of people think social networking has made no impact on their TV viewing. Forgive me for not being blown away.

I’ll bet Mike didn’t even stop to consider that it was possible for people to watch TV and socially network at the same time?

I’m also willing to bet that if Mike replaced the words ‘social networking’ with ‘Yo-Yos’, ‘Roller Blades’, ‘Hoola Hoops’, ‘Pokemon’, ‘Skateboarding’, ‘Candy Eating’ or any other fad/pastime/popular activity over the last 50 years he would have got pretty much the same statistical result. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain social networking is cutting into TV time and I applaud people who are taking initiative and studying the results, I’m seen so many useless stats in the last year I’m starting to get a little jaded.

If anyone has seen a truly amazing social networking statistic, please send it my way before I cry…

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One Response to Is Social Networking Cannibalising TV Viewing?

  1. David Law says:

    Great post. It reminded me of this
    I saw a few months back about the time people spend on the Internet vs. TV – check it out.

    I’m afraid I’m aware of no truly amazing social networking stat. As you say, I imagine people are using social networking sites while they watch the TV.

    Be interesting to see stats between people watching TV and social networking and people watching Hulu and iPlayer and social networking. Probably no outstanding stats at the moment, but this time next year, when the UK (hopefully) have
    and Hulu has had a bit more time to establish – there might be some interesting stats.

    Anyway – great post.

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