Twitter turns seven: Tweeting about the telly

We marked Twitter´s birthday by looking at the relationship between tweets and our TVs

21 Mar 2013


From Justin Bieber to your old teacher, everyone loves Twitter.


On Thursday the social network marked seven years of tweeting on tablets and stalking on smartphones and we marked the occasion by looking at the relationship between Twitter and our TVs.  

It took a while to accept 2006 was nearly a decade ago, as well as hiding those CDs we still considered 'contemporary' and those jeans best not mentioned (what were we thinking).

But we've come to terms with our advancing years, put the Kleenex away and are ready to investigate what we're tweeting about.

Is Twitter all Gaga and Gary Lineker?  

Some 200 million people worldwide use Twitter and 400 million tweets are sent each day but what are all those people sending all those tweets about?

A Twitter account is these days de rigueur for celebs but although we all enjoy a spot of A-List stalking Twitter is surely about more than Lady Gaga's meat dress or Kim Kardashian's bum?

Thankfully (or not, depending on your interests) it is.

We're tweeting about the telly

TV Licensing's TeleScope poll of 1,000 people showed last year Britons watched an average of four hours and two minutes TV per day - up from three hours and 26 minutes in 2006.

The report also claimed 40% of tweets between 6:30pm and 10pm are about television shows - suggesting for all the cutting edge tech of the web we use it to chat about soaps and soccer.

Twitter says on its website: "Before the web, the water cooler was the place people would meet to talk about what happened on television. Now this practice occurs in real-time, and people don't want to wait until the show is over; they want to talk about their favourite comedies, dramas or reality shows as they air and throughout the week."

Twitter also says nearly two-thirds of users tweet and use the site while watching their TV.


This could be on the latest HDTV, an old portable or a smart TV - with certain smart TVs we can take things one step further by actually tweeting from the TV itself.

Meanwhile, the TeleScope study found since 2010 2.9million smart TVs have been sold in the UK. The study also found that as well as tweeting from our tablets we are watching shows on them, with 63% of tablet owners using their devices to watch live television.

How we're tweeting about the TV

Back in the day we'd wait for EastEnders or the footy to finish before composing an arch text to our pal on the latest dum-dum moment or that shocking last-minute decision that was never a penalty.  

But the tablet revolution has made multiple screens and multi-tasking as second nature as, well, watching the telly. Nowadays we tweet our approval or distaste of some shows while the action is actually unfolding.

Downton Abbey is a staple of soporific Sunday nights in many homes, but despite its sleepy vibes and hushed regal tone it gets Twitter users into a right gossipy lather.

Research from the social networking site found those watching the Julian Fellowes-penned period drama tweet about it in real time. The iPad is perfect for such multi-tasking, balanced precariously on the arm of the chair while you fire out 140-character dispatches about how fit Dan Stevens' latest cricket sweater is.

Stats showing 80% of Twitter users in the UK are mobile also backs up any suggestion we're a nation of tablet tweeters.

Twitter said tweets rose sharply while the dramas of Downton were played out and dropped when the adverts came on - perhaps we're all too busy putting on the kettle and finding the biscuits to be composing tweets in those sacred few minutes?

But this wasn't the case for all shows.

As well as being uber-trendy, Homeland is a pretty gripping rollercoaster of a show so perhaps it's not surprising to find we save our tweets 'til the credits have rolled.

The 140 character revolution will be televised

In the seven years since founder Jack Dorsey sent the first-ever tweet, Twitter has gone on to revolutionize how we communicate with one another, turning the 140-character tweet into an art-form and introducing words such as 'hashtag' and 'retweet' into our lives.

Journalist and author Kate Bussmann, who wrote A Twitter Year: 365 Days In 140 Characters, said: "It's no understatement to say that in seven short years, Twitter has changed the way the world communicates."

But as well as changing how we talk to one another it's also changing how we watch TV.

Twitter's Tune in With Twitter report said: "Twitter users love talking about what is happening on TV, TV viewers love using Twitter to see other viewers' opinions. Twitter is increasingly acting as the second screen to TV."

The revolution will be televised - are you and your Twitter fingers tuned in?