Winning The Social + TV Race: Twitter’s “Live” Beats Facebook’s “DVR”


This past Sunday’s Breaking Bad series finale provided much more than a satisfying ending to loyal fans, it also highlighted the social race for TV integration. After the finale, both Twitter and Facebook rushed to talk about the overall number of updates around the beloved series in an effort to solidify themselves as a credible 2nd screen for TV viewing.

Half of Americans visit social networks while watching TV with 1 in 6 Americans posting about it. The “social screen” has officially  arrived.

So, who’s winning? The New York Times dove into the subject, and it turns out that (at least with Breaking Bad) it’s a case of apples to oranges. Nielsen SocialGuide showed that 600,000 Twitter users posted 1.2 million messages about the Breaking Bad finale. On the other hand, Facebook showed 3 million interacted with Breaking Bad on their service within a 24 hour period. This info, however, includes “Like” data — a much simpler signal than posting a personalized message.

One of the most telling messages about who exactly is winning the real-time race comes from Sean Casey, senior vice president for product at Nielsen’s SocialGuide unit. He told the New York Times, “Sports events comprise somewhere between 2 and 3 percent of TV programming in any given month, but generate close to 50 percent of the Twitter activity [around TV]”. This bit of data shows that when looking for live data on an ever changing topic (like a sporting event) Twitter is currently the leader.

Thanks to partnerships with the likes of the NFL and the Olympics, Twitter has been the leader in live. Heineken sponsored this year’s US Open and understood the value of Twitter posting matching video and more. Senior Media Director of Heineken USA told the New York Times, “All of us have realized how powerful Twitter can be to get the conversation going.” Twitter has been working on building more television revenue streams with networks like Fox and MTV. While financial data hasn’t been released, it may be shown in the upcoming S1 filling. In addition to the current sponsorships, it’s been reported that Twitter is looking to highlight the most active conversations about TV shows during prime-time hours.

Yesterday, at Marketing Land’s SMX East show in New York, Twitter’s vice president of global online sales Richard Alfonsi said that one of Twitter’s advantages versus Facebook and other social services is its “live” and “open” nature, compared to the more “DVR” nature of Facebook:

We think what’s distinctive about our platform is that it’s live, it’s public and conversational. The live and public parts are what make this TV experience so much richer…. other services are more like a social DVR…. it’s a different kind of experience. Not that it’s not valuable; but it’s different

You can hear his remarks and more about Twitter and TV in the video below:

While Twitter embraces the “real-time” aspect, Facebook has a different take.  Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president for global marketing solutions, told the NYT that “Marketers want to be where their consumers are … We are a formidable brand-building platform.” In their catch-up attempts Facebook launched Hashtags and updated Graph Search to give users the ability to search by specific posts. The New York Times reports that privately Facebook executives acknowledge that they are playing catch-up to Twitter at this point.

Yes, the race is solidly underway but  Jason Kint, former VP of CBS Corporation’s interactive division, isn’t sure if it will matter for ad dollars. He told the NYT ““There’s definitely a lot of hype, and maybe one day they’ll live up to it all … but I certainly don’t see it taking away ad share from television.” Read the full article on the New York Times.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: Marketing | Features & Analysis | Top News | Twitter | Twitter: Marketing


About The Author: is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

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  • Jeremy Toeman

    So 1 in 3 of ALL Breaking Bad viewers made an update on Facebook or Twitter during the show? Doesn’t that sound… a little high… to you? By that logic we should all have been utterly deluged with updates on our various social feeds. I don’t think this passes a sniff test personally.

    Not to say it isn’t happening at all, of course, just that the numbers seem off the charts compared to viewership…

  • RedLeader

    I never watched the show, because with serialized shows like that, once you fall behind you have to get it on Netflix or DVD to catch up.

    However, my Facebook feed was deluged by Breaking Bad updates and watch party mentions from a lot of my friends and acquaintances on there. I’m not very active on Twitter, so I could understand missing updates on that channel.

    My $0.02, FWIW.

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