'X Factor' Is Most Tweeted-About Show on U.K.‎ TV

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Social media activity boosted ratings for 11 percent of shows, with audiences rising about 2 percent, a study finds

ITV's The X Factor is the most tweeted-about show on British TV, according to a yearlong study from research firm Kantar Media. It also found that social media activity can boost some shows' audience by about 2 percent.

The Simon Cowell music competition drew 9.4 million tweets over the year, or 8.6 percent of all TV-related tweets and 25 percent of all tweets during the weeks it was on air. Second-ranked Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5, which Viacom just acquired, reached 5.3 million, and ITV's Britain's Got Talent, also with Cowell, 3.1 million.

The highest-ranking BBC shows were soap opera EastEnders (ninth with 2.3 million tweets) and The Voice (10th with 2.1 million), which has just announced Rita Ora as a new judge for its new season.

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The BRIT Awards were the top single-event show with more than 4 million, while the 50th anniversary edition of Doctor Who was the most-tweeted about drama show with 501,000 messages.

Love Actually, shown on Christmas Day, was the most tweeted-about film of the year, attracting 150,000 posts, followed by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which had the biggest live audience.

The Kantar Media study also found that Twitter activity "can provide key insights into TV viewing for brands and broadcasters, complementing existing TV ratings."

Twitter activity had direct, positive influence on viewing figures on 11 percent of shows, with the estimated audience boost only around 2 percent, according to Kantar. In the case of individual shows, the impact can be higher though. Some smaller shows in particular can benefit disproportionately, the study said.

The study, called "A Year in the Life of TV and Twitter," concluded that Twitter can not only boost TV viewing during a show, but that "smaller channels and shows can boost their share of voice by employing effective Twitter strategies."

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The top 30 TV series in Britain, excluding live sport and news programs, account for 50 percent of all measured U.K. Twitter TV activity and 9 percent percent of viewing volume.

The study also found "a noticeable skew towards entertainment, talent shows, constructed reality, documentaries, soaps, special events and some dramas, including Sherlock, Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, where there is a cult or younger following."‎

“People have always talked about TV with friends and family, and Twitter extends these conversations outside the living room,” said Andy Brown, global CEO of Kantar Media. "This extensive study illustrates the positive correlation between Twitter and TV in the U.K., but also shows that it is not as straightforward as assuming that a high number of viewers results in a large volume of tweets. ‘Twitter friendly’ shows that encourage tweets during the broadcast or have a younger, evangelical audience for example, can punch above their weight, thereby distorting overall perceptions. This illustrates how proactive encouragement of social TV activity can positively impact programming schedules and advertising campaigns.”‎

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The Kantar study analyzed 110 million TV-related tweets from 13 million users over the course of the year ending on May 1. It excluded live sports and news shows.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai