Today, Channel 4 announced a bold new direction for catch-up television with the launch of 4seven, a forthcoming TV channel which will offer the opportunity to recap on the Channel 4 shows that have caused the most online "buzz" over the past seven days.
This means that active discussion around programmes such as Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and US drama Homeland on social media, blogs and online forums will give the programmes another spin on 4seven, and the discussion will also influence the look and feel of the channel.
Coinciding with the 4seven launch, Diffusion has released part two of its Social TV Trends report, revealing that 17% of UK TV viewers now use social media as a way to discover new shows, rising to 39% among 18-24-year-olds, a key demographic for Channel 4.
Diffusion commissioned YouGov to ask British viewers what are the key factors in encouraging them to discuss TV shows online, revealing that an additional 17% would do so if their friends were already engaged in the discussion. This came ahead of online competitions and promotional social media messages.
The survey of 2,035 adults revealed that 12% of British TV viewers engaged in social media discussion while watching TV as a way to connect with people of similar interests. One in ten (10%) did so to add extra information and perspective around what they were watching.
Diffusion said that this suggests broadcasters must "think a little longer and harder" about their social TV campaigns, and not just rely on Twitter hashtags and Facebook ads.
Tom Malcolm, Diffusion's head of consumer, said that it is important for broadcasters to tap into the power of the online community to drive engagement around TV shows.
"These real-time, online discussions of TV shows on social media mark the end of the water-cooler effect and a fundamental change in the way Brits watch, share and interact with TV," said Malcolm.
"Although a number of broadcasters have invested heavily in Facebook advertising to boost viewing figures, the new research highlights that most effective means of boosting viewing figures is discussion generation which is aided by strong community management and influencer engagement.
"Advertising alone is no longer enough; the social television viewer is increasingly looking for third party endorsement and it's vital that broadcasters get their audiences talking about their shows positively online."
> Channel 4 boss eyes 'connected decade'