February 05, 2013 - Comments Off on Channel 4: Measuring the impact of Social TV

Channel 4: Measuring the impact of Social TV

Having analysed the Twitter conversation around the first episode of Utopia (15/01/2013), we thought it would be interesting to see if there are any similarities or differences between the conversations that took place during the first episode and those surrounding the second episode.

We began by looking at the number of tweets sent per minute for each episode to get an idea of the volume and pattern of each week’s conversations:


The above graph shows that there were some distinct similarities between the two weeks. We can see that there were fewer tweets in week two than week one. However, the decrease in tweets is not as significant as we may have expected – if we factor in the ‘new show hype’ of week one, the conversation in week two appears to have been as strong as week one, which is impressive.

As our first case study explored, Channel 4 led a video led launch campaign of personalised character teaser clips to journalists and other influential broadcasters in the run up to episode one .  As such, we may have expected that there would be significantly more tweets leading up to episode one than episode two. However, the graph above reveals quite the opposite. In fact, during minute 420 of week two – which was around 9pm – there were a higher volume of pre-show tweets than at the same time in week one. This was adjacent to the Channel 4 Twitter opportunity to speak to the cast from 9pm onwards during week two – which suggests that this approach was successful in sparking Twitter conversation.

So what about the number of tweets?

The graph below shows that the cumulative number of tweets was higher in week one than in week two.

Analysing the patterns further, we can see that as the show began during both weeks the number of tweets soared immediately; dipping and increasing again as the show went on. Episode one was half an hour longer than episode two which goes some way to explaining why week one sustained a higher number of tweets than week two for a longer period of time.

When the shows finished, the volume of tweets dropped at a much faster rate in week two than in week one. So why did this happen? It could be down to the cliff-hanger ending of episode one, or to the ‘new show buzz’ as people discussed their thoughts on what they had just seen and whether they would watch it again next week.


Are people really multi-screening?

We can see that there were fewer tweets in week two, compared with week one.  We might expect that, as the conversation turns to a set of people who want to talk about the show, rather than just pointing out it is on TV. What we didn’t expect is that the peak in tweet activity appeared at the same time both weeks.  If people take to twitter to discuss key moments of the show whilst it’s happening, we’d expect to see peaks at different parts of the show as the weeks progress.  What we think we’ve seen though is that people are talking during the ad breaks, rather than during the show.  Given the intricate plot and suspense during the show, it’s no surprise people are waiting for a break before discussing the show. Generally, people are not tweeting and watching Utopia at the same time. This is a great demonstration of audience concentration and engagement with the show rather than their followers on Twitter.

Now let us consider the content of the tweets.

Looking manually through a sample of the tweets it is evident that the content of the tweets in week one are largely positive, and even more so during week two.

Some facts and figures

8% of the tweets in show one were @messages/@mentions. 18% of tweets were RT.

658 @messages/@mentions were sent during show two10% of the total number of tweets. 12% of tweets were re-tweets.

Who was tweeting?

11,240 different people tweeted 16,953 times during the airing of show one

5,146 different people tweeted 6,623 times during the airing of show two

1,428 different people tweeted during both show one and show two

What does this tell us?

In a nutshell, this tells us that the pre-series launch activity which Channel 4 had run on social media had found its audience and had worked well for them. By episode two, whilst audience volume of tweets had fallen, the conversations were more spontaneous and more engaged – coming from real fans of Utopia.

There’s a clear opportunity for show producers to continue their social content to pull audiences back to watch the action ‘live’ – be the first to share their opinions – and in doing so attract new audiences through On Demand and Catch Up channels.

Influencers as the show aired:


Week 1

Week 2

































Whilst the top influencers in show one were largely a mixture of celebrities and journalists, as a result of Channel 4’s marketing build-up, the top influencers of show two include many of the actors in the show and some of the crew. This may have been influenced by week two’s PR campaign in which some of the cast and crew were talking to viewers before the show on Twitter, but evidence of interaction between many of the cast and crew can be seen throughout the show.


There was a much more focused discussion during week two than in the previous week, with viewers really engaging in the show, rather than journalists simply mentioning Utopia. Our first case study showed broadcaster and TV presenter @rickedwards1 to be extremely influential as he was not only mentioning that he had received a video from Channel 4, but also continued to engage in conversation throughout the show. During the second show, @rickedwards1 was the only journalist of those ranking highly in influence during week one to have been ranked highly in week two.

How Whisper works

By running a report through our earned media planning tool Whisper, we have identified truly influential audiences. Channel 4 could use these influencers within an on-going engagement strategy as the series progresses in order to keep the momentum around the show and build brand awareness, driving audience share to on demand and catch-up TV services.

We measure true influence by looking at how well an account can broadcast and receive information, passing it on to other networks to expand the conversation. Unlike cruder measures of influence, our true influence score doesn’t simply reflect follower numbers, re-tweet rate or number of tweets.