NEW YORK: The blurring of divisions between television and the internet means social media is becoming a vital channel for broadcasters, Futurescape, the research firm, has argued.

The company estimated that global TV adspend will reach $250bn (€197.6bn; £165.2bn) by 2014, up from $180bn at present.

The report also claimed that electronic word of mouth will play an increasingly important role in determining which networks are the most attractive.

"Facebook and Twitter buzz affects TV ratings, while broadcasters that use the social networks for viewer engagement are effectively sharing their audiences with them," Futurescape's report added.

"One of the main commercial goals is to be the real-time conversation service that runs alongside major live viewing events, such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars.

"Such conversations are already increasingly integrated on broadcasters' websites, via Facebook and Twitter social plug-ins."

Companies other than Facebook and Twitter could tap in to this trend, with Google TV and a range of similar services set to deliver targeted spots to viewers based on their individual profiles.

However, Futurescape also predicted this new climate will be characterised by competition, rather than being an opportunity for multiple digital businesses to win space on TV.

Ken Lowe, a co-founder of Vizio, said the distinctions consumers are making between different sized screens are rapidly shrinking.

"We are witnessing the demise of television, new technologies are going to take over, television is being replaced by the entertainment display," he argued.

Futurescape also noted that Twitter claims to be the world's fastest-growing search engine, handling 800 million search queries a day, making it bigger than Bing and Yahoo combined.

While Twitter is still tiny in comparison to Google – which handles around 88 billion search queries per month – its co-founder Biz Stone believes that, in the long run, news is more important than search.

"We're much more like an information network or a source of news," he said.

Data sourced from Econsultancy; additional content by Warc staff