How social networking is transforming television

By Addison Walton

Over the last few years, social networking has done many things for journalism. From Facebook Pages to Twitter click-throughs, many are aware of the wonders social media has done for journalism. What some people might be surprised to find out is that social networking is doing a lot more than we thought for television.

From basic cable to ESPN3, social networking is playing a huge role in all things television. A study from Nielsen recently revealed some interesting statistics regarding social buzz and ratings that might surprise some folks.
A "hashtagged" dugout in the most recent World Series.
The study found a number of interesting tidbits, including the fact that women ages 18-34 drive the ratings of certain shows more than men do. They also found that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the two most popular days of the week to talk about on TV on social networking sites. This statistic coincides with another interesting finding in the study. The word most associated with social buzz was winning (not bi-winning, sorry Charlie Sheen). Again, this makes sense because the most heavily watched reality shows ("American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars," "The X Factor" and "Survivor") air on these two days.

With the advent of social media, many networks and companies are finding ways to incorporate their shows, hometown teams and stations into their programming at night. For instance, shows like the aforementioned "X Factor" and FX’s "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" have paid for sponsored hashtags on Twitter that automatically promote at the top of the Twitter list.

In sports, promoting your team and team message is becoming more and more prevalent. Many broadcasts want you to tweet to teams' accounts or tweet questions to broadcasters for them to read on ar. But perhaps one of Twitter’s biggest coups came last week during one of sports’ most hallowed institutions, the World Series. Every shot of the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals dugouts showed the MLB logo with the hashtag "#WorldSeries" beneath it.

If it wasn’t obvious before, this shows that networks know the way to get people talking is rapidly changing. From Simon Cowell to Albert Pujols, social networking is not only changing the way we receive and process journalism, but also how we perceive and interpret what we see on our television screens.

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