SYDNEY: Almost half (44%) of the online population in Australia participated in social TV in 2013, according to a new consumer report, which also found that taking an interest in other people's opinions about TV content remained the main motivation.

The latest findings come from Nielsen, the research firm, in its Australian Connected Consumers Report, which questioned 4,980 Australians aged 16 and over in December 2013.

It found the prevalence of portable, connected, devices now available had helped to boost the proportion of Australians who engaged in social TV (such as posting comments) by 7% on the previous year.

Furthermore, nearly one-fifth (17%) engaged in social TV activity at least once a week, up from 11% in 2012, while more than one-in-three consumers aged 16 to 24 read other people's comments about TV or movie content on a weekly basis.

And in a further sign of the growing popularity of "second-screening", a full 41% of respondents of all ages said they read other people's comments about TV or movies as they watched them (or watched recently). This compared to one-third (33%) who did so in 2012.

Active interaction, such as posting comments about TV programmes that were watched live or watched recently, also rose during the year to encompass 36% of respondents (up from 31% in 2012).

The survey comes as Nielsen announced that it plans to extend its Twitter TV Ratings service to Australia in the second half of 2014, Campaign Asia reported.

The service is designed to enable networks and advertisers to measure TV-related conversations on Twitter, which has about 2m active monthly users in Australia, and Campaign Asia noted a positive response from industry practitioners.

"I expect a greater focus from marketers on real-time engagement strategies for Twitter, leveraging and building on the reach that their TVCs [commercials] already provide and extending the conversations online in a more engaging way," said Chris Bell, senior account director at SapientNitro, the digital agency.

Paul Gage, regional planning at Iris Worldwide, also expected that it would be useful in the Philippines and Indonesia where Twitter usage is high and TV advertising can still reach large audiences.

Data sourced from Nielsen, Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff