Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This study examined on-screen hashtags and Twitter activity associated with four television programs (The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Scandal and Hannibal). Twitter facilitates real time discussions, allowing “water cooler conversations” about television to occur while shows air live. Hashtags organize these conversations around topics of interest. Active viewers will migrate to new media sources, searching for additional content that interests them. The act of complementarity increases their level of media enjoyment. The desire for this additional content dictates the viewer’s behavior. Network producers also promote media convergence, utilizing websites and social media to build word of mouth advertising for their programs. The combination of an abundance of exceptional programs and producer-driven media convergence might be causing viewers to feel a stronger urge to migrate to new media. A content analysis was conducted on three episodes per program, noting the use of any on-screen hashtags. Next, Twitter activity information was pulled using analytics software Radian6. Various comparisons were made, such as the number of mentions of title-based hashtags versus plot-related hashtags and cable versus network program hashtags. An analysis of hashtag characteristics (such as the hashtag screen location and the length of screen time it received) provided information on how networks are currently utilizing hashtags on-screen, and how audiences are using these hashtags in their Twitter conversations. Networks are placing a higher value on audience engagement. They are mining online data to improve their understanding of how existing viewers are reacting to their shows. The upcoming Nielsen and Twitter partnership will incorporate engagement in a new television rating. By understanding how viewers use sites like Twitter and Tumblr, networks can fine tune their dialogue with viewers.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sanders, Meghan