No longer content with the limited control of their television remotes, socially active audiences are looking for more interaction and different ways to engage with the TV they love. Television producers ignoring the needs of this new, maturing audience run the risk of being left behind as these viewers increasingly opt for other means of visual entertainment, namely YouTube.

Handing the audience the power

Live-tweeting has taken the world by storm and now provides the audience with a voice to engage with shows and influence their viewing experience. Hashtags are a way to become part of a larger conversation with other Twitter users whereby users can share opinions, express themselves and become empowered TV viewers.

Recently, TV shows and live events such as the Superbowl and the Baftas have been the most talked-about things on Twitter - indicative of the enjoyment users receive from sharing their opinions and interacting with like-minded users as well as stars of the shows, events and films. Not only does it spark engagement amongst users, live-tweeting has also provided producers with an excellent opportunity to gain insight into viewers opinions in real-time.

Users co-creating with television producers

As well as live-tweeting, user-generated content (UGC) has grown in popularity and is now a popular feature on many shows, namely current affair/news programmes. In this instance, user generated content provides reporters and other viewers with the most up to date news during simultaneous breaking news events i.e. like having many real-world journalists on the ground.

Increase in live TV streaming

Despite the rise in on-demand services, the desire to watch live TV has also grown thanks to social media. Back in 2012, 33% of all Twitter users tweeted about television shows whilst they were on air illustrative of the increase in live viewing. Nowadays, with the growth in social media usage, people cannot miss a show when it’s on air because not only would they miss the conversation, the plot / key elements / results may be revealed to them within passing online social discussions (don’t tell me who dies next in Game of Thrones!!).

Changing ad formats

Nowadays, with the ability to rewind and fast forward TV and turn to a second screen, viewers are given the perfect opportunity to avoid ads. As such, to keep viewers switched on, ad formats are changing. In 2015, viewers will expect to see ads which are more interactive, relevant and personalised to them.

Increased ratings

Programmes with younger audiences tend to have more Twitter activity as well as programmes which spark debate, controversy and audience participation. We’ve seen this time and time again with the likes of X Factor, The Apprentice and Strictly Come Dancing. For TV shows, high levels of Twitter activity are great news, with research suggesting increases in viewer figures of up to 2% as a result.

This correlation between online and offline entertainment and user behaviour is evident in many walks of life. In 2015 we’re keen to see how other forms of communication, activity, commerce, etc are influenced by social media and a ubiquitously connected younger generation.

Advertisers and producers will need to work together to analyse how audiences engage with ads, if not, they run the risk of viewers switching off or reaching for their second screen during the ad breaks, resulting in wasted marketing budgets.