Has Social Media Changed the Way You Watch TV?

SXSW Interactive

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Did you know 41% of tablet owners use their devices while watching TV? That was one of the staggering statistics I heard at a SXSW Interactive panel last month. A majority of those people are dividing their time between watching their show and interacting via Facebook or Twitter. They're tweeting, commenting, and talking live as the events unfold during broadcast, a notable change in how we're experiencing television series in the age of social networking...

At first, it was just my parents giving the spoilers. No matter how often I told them I watch live sports on tape delay — to skip past the commercials and spend less time in front of the TV — they would always call. "TOUCHDOWN!!"

Now just about everyone is in on it, and it's getting harder to escape. 

Friends tag you on a Facebook comment or tweet. A pop-up notification appears on your phone when you're just trying to check email. It's not just sports anymore, it's everything on TV. It's the finale to Downton Abbey or House of Cards


Your best friend for the past five years, good ol' DVR, is making you late to the party everyone already attended, posted pictures of, and changed their profile picture to for the latest internet meme. Forget the fashionably late, it's all about the fashionably NOW.

The surge in social media has even changed how TV broadcasters present their series: Netflix made a move to release a whole season of House of Cards at once. They found out that the traffic through the social media stream stayed steady and constant because of it, rather than a one day spike that quickly lulls. It's likely more shows will follow suit.

Has this latest trend affected your TV viewing habits? Have you gone from a couple-days late viewer to a live viewer? Are you now part of the crowd tweeting, and commenting live to be a part of a larger conversation online?

(Images: Chris Perez)

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