Faculty Research: How social media engagement leads to sports channel loyalty: Mediating roles of social presence and channel commitment

Written by Center for Social Commerce

Published on February 3, 2015

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications’ professors Joon Soo Lim and Frank Biocca have recently published a study examining the effect of backchannel communication on sports channel loyalty.


Social TV is defined as real-time backchannel communication on social networking sites (SNSs) during a live television broadcast. Despite some pessimistic forecasts concerning the impact of social TV on viewing behaviors, broadcasters have found that the social TV phenomenon plays a positive role in boosting television ratings. We examine whether television viewers’ backchannel communication during a mega-sporting event has a positive effect on their sports channel loyalty. A survey of a randomly drawn sample (N = 500) from national panel data in South Korea was conducted right after the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. On the basis of theories in web interactivity, emotional attachment, and company–consumer identification, we proposed three levels of social TV engagement. Results of a confirmatory factor analysis yielded the tripartite dimensions of social media engagement (i.e., functional, emotional, and communal) among viewers of social TV. A test of the structural equation model (SEM) revealed that functional engagement had a direct impact on social presence and that the communal engagement had a direct effect on channel loyalty. The effect of emotional engagement on channel loyalty was mediated by channel commitment. The social presence led to channel loyalty mediated by channel commitment.

The full study can be read here.