Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland is tops at chatterboxing

Don’t know what we’re talking about? Fingers at the ready as Claire McNeilly explains

Northern Ireland is top of the UK league when it comes to so-called ‘chatterboxing' — a new trend which is now dominating social media.

It involves two-screen viewing, with people using interactive sites such as Twitter to comment on television programmes while watching them.

New figures show that one in three adults (31%) in Northern Ireland — compared to one in four (26%) elsewhere — have commented to others online or via SMS about something on the box.

Research conducted for TeleScope 2012 — which looks at the UK's viewing habits — suggests that the trend of commenting via a second screen about a programme, or ‘chatterboxing’, is starting to grip the nation.

The figure rose in younger adults, with more than half (54%) of those aged under 35 in Northern Ireland admitting they take part in chatterboxing.

Television programmes which evoke strong personal opinions and engage viewers by mechanisms such as voting are most likely to drive this new phenomenon.

The number of tweets sent about a programme as it is broadcast is a good indicator of chatterboxing levels — a good example being the X Factor final 2011 results show generating 346,216.

Not only does the average person in Northern Ireland spend more than two months a year watching television, social media sites are also influencing the viewing choices of many people, according to a report published by TV Licensing.

Deborah King, TV Licensing spokeswoman for Northern Ireland, said the report shows how much viewing habits have evolved in recent times.

“This year’s TeleScope report points to the fact that people are taking advantage of new technologies to ensure they can enjoy TV in more ways than ever before, whether watching on bigger sets at home, via mobile technologies on the go or on catch-up,” she said.

“And, of course, the chatterboxing phenomenon is bringing a new dimension to TV as a collective and social experience.”

An ICM poll suggests that almost half (46%) of young adults across Northern Ireland aged under 35 try to watch a programme live, rather than on catch up, because they enjoy being part of the related social media chatter or are worried that ‘social media spoilers’ will ruin programmes for them.

Online buzz is further changing viewing behaviour by introducing us to new programmes or encouraging us to seek out related content online.

TeleScope also reveals that the average Northern Ireland person’s weekly TV diet involves watching up to 29 hours on screen.

However, this is further topped up because we spend an average of over three hours per week tuning into the small(er) screen — watching programmes on our laptops, smartphones and tablets, according to ICM research commissioned by TV Licensing.

This means that in total this could amount to watching over 32 hours per week — or more than two months per year.

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