NEW YORK: A quarter of American TV viewers reported in Q4 2013 that social media had made them more aware of TV programmes, up from 18% for the same period in 2012, a new study into the impact of social media on TV viewing has revealed.

Furthermore, 15% said social media made them enjoy TV more (up from 11%), 12% recorded more programmes (up from 10%), and 11% watched more live TV (up from 8%), research firm Nielsen discovered.

Nielsen also found that, in addition to social media, US consumers are using the second screen to engage in other digital activities while watching TV.

Based on a sample of over 9,400 mobile device owners aged 13+, Nielsen found that two-thirds (66%) of tablet owners and almost half (49%) of smartphone owners surfed the web while watching their favourite TV programmes.

Other favoured activities included online shopping (44% tablet users, 24% smartphone users), checking sport scores (29% tablets, 27% smartphones), and looking up assorted topics, such as actors or plots, (41% tablets, 29% smartphones).

Smart device owners also liked to email or text their friends about a programme, Nielsen said – 29% of smartphone owners did so versus 23% of tablet owners.

"Audiences aren't just surfing through channels when the TV is on anymore," the report said. "They are riding the waves of second screens, continually learning how to incorporate new interests into their style.

"And as social media's effect continues to resonate with viewers, advertisers should find opportunities to join the conversations and activities that viewers are engaging with while watching TV."

Nielsen also explored whether the impact of social media on TV viewing differed across the nation's ethnic groups.

Almost a third (32%) of Hispanics said they were more aware of TV programmes because of social media compared to the average of 25%.

Hispanic respondents also recorded a higher than average likelihood to enjoy TV more (26%) compared to the average of 15%.

However, almost twice as many Asian-Americans (20%) were likely to record more programmes than the average (12%) and African-Americans were almost twice as likely (14%) to sample shows online compared to the average (8%).

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc