Sharknado vs. Under the Dome: CBS Ponders the Importance of Social Media
Mike Vogel and Jolene Purdy | Photo Credits: Kent Smith/CBS Broadcasting
In the summer programming smackdown, Under the Dome beat out Sharknado.
On Monday, CBS' Chief Research Officer David F. Poltrak made the comparison at the Television Critics Association fall previews to make a point about social media: Tweeting does not equal viewership, since the much tweeted-about Sharknado couldn't even bring in a 10th of Under the Dome's audience of almost 12 million for their respective premieres.
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Poltrak also pointed to the success of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars on Twitter, but said they were only a small portion of the conversation out there. Despite these examples, CBS isn't completely turning its back on social media. "Twitter is growing and expanding," he acknowledged. "This phenomenon is going to grow ... we're not avoiding it but we're going to immerse ourselves in it.... The fact that people can comment about programs and be social about programs... can increase ratings, we believe in that, we believe in social media... We are building marketing programs to address how much to take advantage of this."
Check out more highlights of Poltrak's presentation:
Discovery of existing shows Elementary grew its audience from 9 million live viewers to 16 million after DVR playback, Video-on-Demand and online viewers were added. On top of that, Elementary continues to draw in new viewers, even in the summer months, which follows the trajectory of Person of Interest, which increased its viewership by 12 percent in its second season. Similarly, veteran drama NCIS is still growing its audience in its 10th year. The long game and drawing in new viewers works for CBS.
Word of mouth "In this point in time, we believe we need to look at the entire socialization process," Poltrak said. CBS hired the Kellerfay Group, which used a diary format for viewers to write down how much they discuss TV through word of mouth and other means throughout their day. What they found was that 80 percent of interactions were still through face-to-face interactions, 10 percent through phone conversations and a mere 3 percent through the various social media channels. In the past, Kellerfay has taken a long time to gather and report its data, but will accelerate its reporting process in the fall.
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Courting Facebook In a Trendrr analysis of one week in May, the company found that Facebook conversations about TV line up much more closely with actual audience numbers. Most online tracking devices, however, do not include or consistently track Facebook numbers though. CBS will use a combo of Kellerfay and Trendrr to get a fuller picture of the TV-viewing social conversation.
Money is online "We make more money when viewers watch online than live on TV," Poltrak said. CBS will go forward with a monetization scheme online and will be "aggressively building our alternatives."
Adults 18-to-49 is too limited Poltrak doesn't want us to focus on the traditional age-group way of looking at demographics. Instead, he said that advertisers value moviegoers, luxury car owners and cola buyers.
Young vs. old Although the younger viewers are dominating the social media sphere, many of them are still living at home with their parents. "This makes them even less interesting to advertisers," Poltrak said. "The baby boomers, that's who's fueling the economy right now. Advertisers are recognizing that... and that's why they're seeking out the new analytics."
Newer reporting styles needed "I don't have much faith in the diaries system," Poltrak said. "I have faith in the Nielsen national panel... it's a very reliable measure of total audience." He added that eventually, the diary system will have to make way for another method of gathering new analytics.
What do you think of CBS' research findings? How much do you think social media impacts viewership? (Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)