In the not-too-distant past, when we wanted to experience a TV program with another person, we sat down together in a room with a TV set. TV was a social medium then – just as it is today.

Today, however, “together” is defined a little more loosely. Those conversations about shows that move us continue – but the geography has changed. They can happen with an out-of-state friend, a relative across town, or a fellow fan you’ve never met who lives on the other side of the globe.

Even though we have more ways to watch TV content than ever, TV continues to be a social experience.

This was a key finding from TV S.M.A.R.T., a new research project by Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) that shows how and why TV viewing is changing around the world, and how advancements in distribution are changing the ways viewers consume and engage with content.

The project’s main findings were that audiences still love TV and TV content, viewers use a “hierarchy of screens” to choose the devices they view on, and that in order to be successful, TV today must be S.M.A.R.T. (Social, Mobile, Accessible, Relevant, and Tailored).

We’ll cover all of those elements in our series of posts on TV S.M.A.R.T.  Here, we’re focusing on “S” for Social:

The social experience of TV brings people together and enhances their viewing enjoyment.

  • 32% say talking to friends (online/mobile) while watching makes them enjoy a show more
  • 27% say it makes them feel closer to their friends
  • 22% say they don’t want to miss out on conversations between their friends
  • 22% say they like to know what others think of the shows they’re watching

Social media viewers were once a small contingent of the viewing population. Not so anymore…

  • 49 percent of people use social media sites and forums while watching TV and this number is growing
  • 51 percent will be discussing what they are currently watching on TV over social networks

Chatter in the social media sphere highlights MTV’s success in connecting with Millennials.

  • To look at just one social media channel (Twitter), you can see how VIMN has reached out and connected with its audience:
  1.  During last year’s VMAs, MTV inspired 360,000 tweets per  minute, shattering the previous record
  2. MTV UK’s Hottest Summer Superstar stunt event, which encouraged viewers to vote for their favorite artist while viewing real-time charts on-air and online, generated over 165 million votes – making it MTV UK’s most successful social media campaign to date