Nielsen report confirms Twitter status

2012 has been billed as the Year of Digital in many year-end round-ups, and the publication of The Social Media Report 2012 from US research analyst Nielsen only confirms the importance of the online world to both sport and the wider global media industry.

Of course, following the Olympics and a blizzard of stats and anecdotes that have swirled round since (example: BBC Head of Sport, Barbara Slater, stating that more people accessed the Corporation’s Olympics content via the web than watched it on TV) the sports video industry is very aware of the importance of the second screen, IPTV, mobile TV, and all the other technologies that are being lumped together under the umbrella term ‘digital’. What this report does is quantify the scale of the shift involved, albeit from a predominantly US-centric standpoint.

The headline? In June over 33% of Twitter users sent messages at some point about the content of television shows, a fairly hefty increase over the 26% that were doing the same in January 2012. And that was before the Olympics, which was probably the first big event to illustrate the extent of second screen usage, especially given NBC’s decision to tape delay coverage, driving further numbers online.

Effectively, Twitter has become the second screen for television.

All in all it seems that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone users access their devices while in front of the main TV screen in their house. Social networking is the main activity for 41% of them in turn (shopping and looking up further information about a programme also figure highly, with the latter probably driven through the roof by the web-based Olympic data services).

Interestingly, that figure is dwarfed elsewhere in the world. While Europeans it seems still like to concentrate on one thing at a time, with only 38% accessing social media while watching TV, 47% of people in the Asia/Pacific region do, 52% in Latin America and a huge 63% in the Middle East & Africa.

If their usage stats reflect what’s happening in the US too, more people are connecting for longer times on mobile devices. Nielsen reckons that Americans spent a total of 157.5 billion minutes on mobile devices in July 2012 compared to 81.8 billion minutes in July 2011.

And that is fairly astonishing. No wonder the company has just announced the establishment of the Nielsen Twitter TV rating, where itself and and Twitter will deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter. Slated for commercial availability at the start of the Autumn 2013 TV season, it will be fascinating to watch whether, as we all suspect, sport dominates proceedings.

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