Social TV, in which audiences use social networks while they watch, is causing some viewers to opt for live broadcasts over time-shifted shows, according to a new study from iModerate Research Technologies.

The research firm found that more than half (58 percent) of viewers who habitually engage socially while watching television report that they watch more live TV because they need to be part of the conversation in real-time.

People in this group, defined as viewers who engage socially ten or more times a week, also are more active consumers and influencers than average. In fact a third of them said their primary reason for being Social TV viewers was either to give feedback to the television network or show support for their program. Other motivations include the desire to be relevant and recognized, be part of a community, maintain relationships, and to virtually hang out with friends.

The vast majority of these viewers (91 percent) choose Facebook for the social component of the experience, while Twitter came in a distant second at 38 percent. About a quarter of them (27 percent) used the show’s own website, while 6 percent logged in with GetGlue. (See chart, below.)

“Social TV is a huge phenomenon,” said Adam Rossow, vice president of Marketing at iModerate. “The respondents in this study consistently remarked that it makes TV more fun. They love the social interaction and frequently add shows to their viewing lineup due to social chatter and the desire to keep up with the conversation. That adds up to more time spent on social networks and more hours watching television.”

The report determined three main types of Social TV participants, groups they tag as the Sports Nut, the Extrovert and the Girlfriend depending on their motivations for sharing and what kind of shows they like to watch.

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Photo by Flickr user dan taylor, used under Creative Commons license