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Online TV is the Topic of Social Media Conversation

Research from VAB has found that video programming and content has become the primary social media conversation fuel during the time of social distancing and lockdowns in the US.

The AloneTogether: Culture in the Time of Covid-19 examined the topics people talked about on Twitter during the home isolation period and found that over a six-week period, three-quarters of the top trending topics on Twitter at night were related to people watching video content.

The study analysed the top ten trending Twitter topics each night over the first six weeks of country-wide lockdown orders from 16 March 26 April 2020. It monitored two points in time each night to capture what people are talking about online throughout the evening at 21:30 and 23:00. Trending topics based on video content included two types which have been aggregated within this analysis: direct, which were specific ‘official’ hashtags of entertainment shows, sports content or news programming; related, pertaining to topics associated with specific video programming including athletes, show characters, celebrity personalities, and specific video platform-related news references.

VAB also found that TV has become the center piece of the household, with four-fifths of people saying they couldn’t imagine not having a television during the pandemic. As many as 83% said that they couldn’t imagine not having a television set right now and 70% said that they binge-watched more TV shows or films during the lockdown period. Since the start of Covid-19, live TV and social media were found to be experiencing the biggest increase in consumption. Overall, 84% of respondents say they have more time to watch/listen/read media since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Looking at social media, VAB found that at least one video-related topic trended each day of the six-week analysis, covering a variety of genres including scripted dramas, reality TV, live news specials and sports-related updates, among others. Ad-supported TV accounted for 72% of total video-related trending topics and filling the void created by the absence of live sports on TV, entertainment content made up over three-fourths (78%) of ad-supported TV programmes trending in the top 10 on Twitter.

The AloneTogether: Culture in the Time of Covid-19AloneTogether: Culture in the Time of Covid-19 study also revealed that ad-supported TV programming specials, including live music performances, late night fundraisers and televised town halls, also were top trending Twitter topics on the nights that they ran. Prime examples cited included Fox’s iHeart Living Room Concert music event on 29 March; CBS’ Homefest: James Cordon’s Late, Late Show special on 30 March; The CNN Town Hall hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta providing a forum to discuss issues related to the pandemic on 2 April.

Joseph O’Halloran| 17 June 2020

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