Understanding Engagement and Willingness to Speak Up in Social Television: A Full-Season, Cross-Genre Analysis of TV Audience Participation on Twitter
The widespread use of digital platforms has changed the way people watch television. Despite an abundance of empirical studies, full-season, cross-genre analyses of different TV formats are rare. Based on a data set of 1,383,414 tweets, this study aims to close this gap by comparing Twitter commentaries around the 2012–2013 seasons of the Italian edition of The X Factor and the political talk show Servizio Pubblico. For each episode, we identify peaks of Twitter engagement and analyze the corresponding TV scene, revealing the role played by suspense and surprise in catalyzing the engagement of online audiences. A content analysis of 12,640 tweets created during peaks of engagement reveals how willingness to speak up varies when the topic is politics rather than entertainment.