The growing use of mobile devices and social apps has led to an increase in second screen and social media usage during television airings. In 2016, around 47 million internet users in the U.S. stated accessing the internet while they watched television. That same year, 68 percent of internet users in U.S. said that they use their smartphone while they watch television, while just over 52 percent use their desktop computer or laptop as a second screen. Regardless the device, in the U.S., second screening is forecast to increase in the next few years.
Social network Twitter has proven itself especially popular as users are able to run a direct commentary through live-tweeting and direct short-form discussion. Social media buzz based on online user mentions and interactions are a relevant tool in measuring user engagement before, during and after a program has aired. In 2016, the U.S. presidential election created major buzz on social media. Combining Twitter and Facebook, the first debate generated just over 83 million interactions. Donald Trump accounted for the largest share of both Twitter buzz and Facebook buzz during the three presidential debates. In addition to the debates, a quote from Hillary Clinton’s concession speech was the third most retweeted Twitter posts in 2016.
Apart from political events, television series and specials generate strong online user interaction as well. The Grammy Awards was the most popular television special during the 2015/2016 season with 7.64 million tweets during the telecast. The Oscars ranked second as the prestigious award ceremony had an online buzz of 7.22 million tweets in 2016. Other popular television specials include the American Music Awards, iHeartradio Music Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards. Concerning TV shows, AMC’s The Walking Dead was the most popular television series on Twitter during the 2015/2016 season with about 435 thousand tweets per telecast. FOX’s Empire and HBO’s Game of Thrones ranked second and third respectively.
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