Research conducted by Tasenţe Tanase and Ciacu Nicoleta, PhD students at Andrei Saguna University of Constanta, confirms that an increasing number of people use computers to watch television programs in Romania. Their study, published in Andrei Saguna’s Journal of Communication and Marketing, suggests that TV audiences are not lost – they’ve simply moved online. After identifying the major television networks in Romania which use social media for promotional purposes, the researchers analyzed their official Facebook pages as a means of promoting both traditional and online markets. Five principal Romanian networks were identified, including four private television channels, Antena 3, Realitatea TV, Discovery Romania and Pro TV, and a public television network, TVR 1. Data obtained from the websites www.socialbakers.com, www.sati.ro and www.paginademedia.ro was analyzed to ascertain the extent to which social media was used to promote the respective television stations. Research established that audience interaction with television stations via social media has increased considerably in the last six months. It revealed that the total audience numbers of the analyzed television networks decreased in 2011 when compared to 2010, while traffic to the websites increased during the same period of time.
Four of the five analyzed television channels (Pro TV, Antena 3, Realitatea TV and TVR1) have higher audience ratings than Web traffic on their websites and social network profiles. This trend is decreasing and a growing involvement of audiences with the Internet media, social media in particular, can be observed. Only one of the TV networks included in the research, Discovery Channel Romania, reported viewer ratings well below its website and social network traffic. It must be kept in mind that unlike the other television networks studied, Discovery Channel Romania is a subsidiary of the American Discovery Channel “giant” and can use its American connection to tap into this trend of increased online interaction that other television networks in Romania are now beginning to follow.
A major migration of traditional television viewers to an online environment has been noted, with an increasing tendency for viewers to watch television shows online (through streaming or pre-recoded videos) causing a widespread decrease in live television ratings. In addition, this shift towards online viewing has facilitated increased interaction between viewers and journalists, and among viewers themselves, giving greater exposure and credibility to media institutions. This movement should be understood in conjunction with the idea that the Internet provides a platform for viewers to express their subjective opinion of any given topic as well as to comment on the opinions of others, which from their point of view, makes discussion more interesting. Another online trend allows viewers to upload their own videos or pictures to a television network’s Facebook page, thus, giving the networks quick access to events reporters are unable to immediately reach due to restrictions of distance or time. Broadcasters now encourage viewers who witness events of public interest to upload their personal footage to their websites. This international practice of so-called “citizen journalism” allows ordinary people to dabble in journalism.
The whole research is available for download here.