The staying power displayed by Twitter during the Oscars telecast and the recent pairing of Facebook and Google with "American Idol" exemplifies the growing importance of live TV for social media's biggest stars. While retweets, likes and shares help drive these conversations around live events, it is the interest from advertisers that Facebook, Google and Twitter covet most.
Colossal Advertising Budgets at Stake
Social media channels aren't competing for eyeballs and the sake of popularity alone — they are each seeking a stake in the massive TV advertising budgets that power the entire entertainment industry. The good news for Twitter, Facebook and Google is that users are already actively engaging on their platforms while watching TV.
Seven months have passed since Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg said as many as 100 million U.S. residents are using Facebook during prime-time TV hours. And just last month, Facebook's head of global marketing solutions said Facebook is in the final stages of a testing an auto play video ad unit that will be released "imminently."
The winners of the second-screen bonanza won't be determined only by the level of activity they experience with any specific event or program, but also the amount of new advertising revenue they can capture as a result. As advertisers increasingly shift their budgets from television to digital video ads, the onus remains on Twitter, Facebook and others to make their case for that eventual windfall.
Heralding a New Era for Live TV
Twitter is riding a wave of growth in real-time activity during entertainment events, but it has also seen a decline in usage during major live sporting events. Tweets during the NBA All-Star Game and the Super Bowl were down 21 percent and 3 percent, respectively, from last year, while chatter during the Grammys and Golden Globes was up 9 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
Before it gears up for the next retweet seen round the world, Twitter is patting itself on the back for a solid performance during the Oscars telecast that saw its highest TV ratings in a decade, according to Nielsen.
During the awards show, there were more than 14.7 million tweets containing terms related to the Oscars and 17.1 million relevant tweets overall. Oscar-related tweets in the United States were up 75 percent from last year and 2.8 million unique U.S. Twitter users posted tweets about the Oscars, according to Nielsen SocialGuide.
The Oscar nominees most tweeted about during the telecast included Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Alfonso Cuaron, Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock. Meanwhile, the films that received the most mentions included "Gravity," "Frozen," "12 Years a Slave," "Dallas Buyers Club," and "The Wolf of Wall Street."
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