NEW YORK: How social media networks and other communication channels influence the likelihood of American TV viewers to watch a show has been mapped in a new academic study.

The Council for Research Excellence (CRE) found that Facebook and offline communications, such as the phone, have more impact on the likelihood of someone switching on their TV to watch a programme whereas Twitter and text messaging have more influence on those already watching TV, Advertising Age reported.

"When viewing, one is already engaged and this leads to both higher likelihood of viewing and communications," according to the report, which has not been released to the public.

CRE, an organisation of research professionals who are all media clients of Nielsen, the measurement firm, also examined what influencers lift viewing among regular and infrequent TV users.

Offline word of mouth (WOM) drives the highest lift, of about 2%, for regular viewers compared to about 1% lift from social media and even less from a one-to-one digital communication, the report said.

For infrequent viewers, offline WOM also drives the highest lift, but this time a lift of only 1%. The other main influencers for infrequent viewers are promotions, digital and social media – each registering a gain of under 0.5%.

CRE came to its conclusions after using unique methodology that involved self-reported diary entries from 1,665 respondents aged 15 to 54 combined with the actual viewing of 150 of them who were part of the Nielsen People Meter panel.

Conducted over a three-week period, CRE said it meant it could analyse more than 78,000 diary entries, which were all submitted via a mobile app, from nearly 1,600 TV shows.

"There's a ton of data that comes in through the app," said Beth Rockwood, svp market resources and ad sales research at Discovery, the entertainment company, and also chair of CRE's social media committee. "It's definitely a big data project."

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff