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Reality Rules – ‘Social Sofa’ Is Driving Reality TV Engagement

Today Reality Rules – Reality TV Viewer Insights Survey Report was released.

This report could not have occurred without you the reader participating in the online survey in August this year. Thank you.

The research was done in conjunction with Julie Houston from Nitty Gritty Research.

There have been some interesting findings particularly in relation to social media usage, why people watch reality TV and what and how they are watching it, and product placement.

If you want to see a preview of the report click on the button on the left of the blog or below is the press release that highlights some of the findings from the report:


A newly launched research report has revealed ‘the social sofa’ has become the new norm for Reality Television viewers, with fans flocking online to communicate about reality shows and obtain information about them.

In 2011 people watched more television then ever and the online social media phenomenon that has occurred over the past two year has been a factor in influencing people’s viewing habits.

The report Reality Rules – Reality TV Viewer Insights Survey Report 2011 has found 67 percent of Reality TV fans use some form of social media whilst they were watching reality TV shows.

Reality TV expert Emma Ashton of Reality Ravings, and social insights specialist, and consumer psychologist Julie Houston of Nitty Gritty Research, have conducted Australia’s first survey examining Reality TV fans viewing habits and attitudes.

The Reality TV Insights Survey carried out online with over 400 viewers nationally found 38 percent of viewers interacted on Facebook, and 35 percent of fans were on Twitter whilst the show was screening.

Additionally, the study revealed Facebook and blogs remain at the top of the social media hierarchy, with more fans using both to discuss their favourite shows.

“Viewers clearly like the social nature of the format of reality TV, and people using social media during or after a reality TV episode are more likely to become an entrenched fan of show,” said Emma Ashton.

“These fans who are using ‘the social sofa’ are more likely to watch the shows more regularly, and get emotionally involved with the series and with the contestants” said Ms Ashton

The Reality Rules report also showed casting and editing of reality shows was crucial to a shows success.

“Eighty-four percent (84%) of viewers said they found it easy to get emotionally involved with these shows, and 72 percent enjoyed seeing drama and controversy between contestants,”

“If Networks and Production Companies get the right mix of contestants which resonates with the viewer, as well a some drama either on or off screen, then they are well on the way to having a hit reality TV show,” Ms Ashton of Reality Ravings said.

Findings demonstrates that brand placement was extremely effective with 93 per cent of respondents admitting to being influenced by the advertising and information in the shows.

Ninety-eight percent (98%) of viewers made an association with brands aired during Reality TV viewing.

The top brands recognised during the survey (which was conducted in August 2011) were:

• Coles

• Qantas

• Handee Wipes

• Freedom

• Woolworths

“Advertisers are definitely getting more for their money by aligning with reality shows. This research revealed that a show’s sponsors were very well recognised by viewers, even well after the series had finished screening,” Ms Houston said.

“Reality TV viewers like the information they receive from reality shows, this would indicate they are more receptive to brand placement and lifestyle messaging then other formats.”

“With the high number of viewers interacting in the social media and online, advertisers need to rethink the advertising opportunity, extending it to a conversation with the consumer after the show has finished airing.

“Also innovation within advertising space is increasingly important as the research showed 68 percent of viewers fast forwarded through the advertisements and eight percent watched shows online.

“The more effective advertising within Reality TV will offer useful content and integrate well with the show rather than employ the traditional model which has been more about disrupting the consumer with a brand spruik and memorable tag line.” Ms Houston of Nitty Gritty Research said.

The full report on dedicated Reality TV insights research can be found at or






1 Culinary Boner { 11.23.11 at 10:59 am }

My beanbag looks more like the ‘scrotal sofa’…just sayin’

2 brain dead dave { 11.23.11 at 2:56 pm }

Most reality shows involve sofa suffering.

3 Was reality TV a necessary precursor to social media? « Media Emerges. I Critique. { 01.24.12 at 3:44 pm }

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