According to the first year of data from Kantar Twitter TV Ratings (KTTR), which launched in October 2014 and tracks more than 30 channels in the UK, the event generated 2.01 million tweets – 24% more than the next most tweeted about show: the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, with 1.63 million tweets.
The 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards and last year’s Children in Need also rank highly in terms of tweets, illustrating how powerful one-off events can be at driving engagement. It also demonstrates how effective brands’ advertising can be if it succeeds in harnessing this interest with synchronised TV and social media campaigns.
“There is a lot of Twitter activity around TV. There are around 15 million active Twitter users in the UK and this study shows that just over a third tweeted about TV, so there’s no doubt that TV is a big influencer of people’s tweeting [habits],” says Nick Burfitt, global director of Kantar Media’s audience measurement unit.
The buzz in the run-up to this May’s general election was also cause for people taking to Twitter. The ITV Leaders’ Debate 2015 was the third most tweeted about TV show in the UK, generating 1.59 million tweets, while the BBC Election Debate, Channel 4’s Cameron & Miliband: The Battle for Number 10 and the Question Time Election Leaders’ Special also feature in the top 20 most tweeted about programmes.
Entertainment shows top rankings
All the above-mentioned shows, along with reality TV and serial dramas such as Eastenders, fall into KTTR’s entertainment category, which accounts for more than a quarter (29%) of all tweets about TV. In terms of targeting individual shows for instant effect, entertainment programmes make a case for being brands’ priority when devising ‘sequenced’ campaigns across TV, computer and mobile screens.
Sport takes by far the biggest share of all TV-related tweets at 46%, but tweeters viewing on TV can’t reliably be separated from those following an event on the radio, online or in the stadium, for example. Sport broadcasts therefore are not counted in Kantar Media’s top 20 most tweeted shows. Drama (8%), current affairs (6%) and documentaries (4%) are all well behind the entertainment category in terms of the proportion of total TV-related tweets dedicated to them.
Where full TV series are concerned, the X Factor generated the most Twitter activity of any TV series broadcast between October 2014 and October 2015, with a total of 4.22 million interactions throughout the season and an average of 211,032 per episode. I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here accumulated 2.15 million tweets across the entire series in 2014, with an average of 102,455 per episode, making it the second most popular series for tweets.
The Great British Bake Off, The Apprentice, Celebrity Big Brother and Britain’s Got Talent also feature high on the list, showing the level of engagement talent show series generate.
When looking at the TV shows with the highest proportions of their viewership tweeting, the data again reveals that reality TV and awards ceremonies lead, but lesser known programmes take the top spots. This suggests brands could obtain a better return on investment ratio by targeting slightly more niche events, where there is less competition for ad spots than at the Brits or on The X Factor, but where the average viewer is more likely to take to social media.
The 2015 Billboard Music Awards, which aired on entertainment channel E!, had the highest proportion of viewers tweeting with 172.9 per 1,000 talking about the show. Meanwhile, 107.5 per 1,000 viewers of the 2015 Grammy Awards, which was also shown on E!, tweeted about it.
“Even though these shows might not be the top rated in terms of total audience in the UK, the Twitter audience ranks very highly and is very engaged,” says Kantar’s Burfitt.
By contrast, 51.4 per 1,000 viewers tweeted about the Brit Awards and only 17.3 per 1,000 viewers talked about the Eurovision Song Contest on Twitter. MTV shows Geordie Shore and Ex on the Beach also score very highly when looking at the ratio of viewers that are tweeting about an episode. In fact, all of the top 10 shows by this measure appeared on non-terrestrial channels: five on MTV, four on E! and one on Fox.
Sport dominates total tweets
While the entertainment category provides the highest-ranking individual broadcast in terms of Twitter interactions, sporting competitions are a good bet for brands looking to extend awareness and social media engagement across a number of programmes. Predictably, football matches dominate.
The FA Cup match between Manchester United and Arsenal broadcast on BBC One on 9 March generated the most tweets at 654,685, reaching an audience of 2.6 million.
The Superbowl XLIX on 1 February, shown on Channel 4 and Sky Sports, was one of the few non-football sporting events that generated Twitter engagement. Despite being broadcast in the early hours of the morning, 526,396 people tweeted about it – making it the fifth most popular sporting show. The boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – also broadcast in the early hours – saw the seventh highest level of Twitter activity with 500,450 tweets.