Tweeting about live broadcasts can drive viewership.

In researching the correlation between TV ratings and second-screen activity over the past few years, Nielsen has found, for instance, that tweeting about live broadcasts can drive viewership. Social media clearly helps to make people more aware of programs, a phenomenon that’s on the rise, as this Nielsen chart shows. Nielsen also found that a small but rising percentage of viewers feel that social media enhances their enjoyment of TV and also their likelihood of watching more of it. Notably, African-American, Hispanic and Asian viewers over-index on all these points.

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Social media, of course, isn’t the only type of second-screen activity. Viewers are most likely to be simply surfing the web, especially those with a tablet in hand. Other common activities include shopping, looking up show information and emailing or texting friends about the show. Buying an advertised product or service was noted by 14 percent of tablet users and 7 percent of smartphone users.

While social media can be a distraction, it can also be an opportunity for advertisers. Notes Millward Brown’s Joline McGoldrick in Forbes, “The frequency and centrality of mobile devices in users’ lives open the door for a Golden Age if brands can optimize communication across devices and integrate the brand within the content audiences are consuming.”

Image credit: Nielsen