How Long Should TV Viewers Wait Before Disclosing Show Spoilers?

At least a day according to 27.7% of DVR users surveyed by TiVo last month — with 10.9% voting for at least two days and 22.7% supporting even longer. On the flip side, 22.5% would wait less than a day, including 12.6% who say everything’s fair game the instant a show airs. (Some 16.6% don’t care.) It’s more than just a question of digital age etiquette: About 30% of respondents in Pacific Time states, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, say they avoid the Internet altogether when a program with an ending they care about airs in other time zones. That’s “a fairly significant change” in behavior, TiVo Chief Research Officer Jonathan Steuer tells me.

The survey of 14,673  TiVo subscribers is the first time the DVR company has tried to put its arms around the subject. Spoilers are becoming increasingly irksome as the ranks of time shifters grows: An average of 177.7M people watched some time shifted TV  each month in Q1, up 7% from the same period last year, Nielsen says.

More than 78% told TiVo that they’ve had a movie, TV show or sports game spoiled at some point, with 36% specifically citing TV. Disclosure of a major show plot point was the most commonly cited problem, by 64%. Yet the revelations most frequently deemed the “worst” (by nearly 23%) are final results from a sports game that people planned to watch. The most common sources of spoiler information are news headlines on the Internet (cited by 21.2%), Facebook (19.6%), and live TV (11.1%).

Only about 12.3% of respondents in Eastern, Central, and Mountain time zones say that they take precautions to avoid spoiling shows for others while 35.6% say they don’t worry about it. Another 42.1%  say it isn’t a problem because they also time shift while 6.6% say there aren’t any TV shows they care about that much.

How, exactly, do people define a spoiler? A headline crosses the line, 71.8% agree,  if it says something like: “[Show] Boss Talks About Big Death In Last Night’s Finale.” The number drops to 31.7% for a conversation or post that goes: “This week’s episode of [show] was soooooo sad.” About the same percentage would object to a tweet, for example during the World Cup, that reads: “USA!! #worldcup2014.” But just 6.7% would have a problem with a news headline that says: “[Actor] Joining [Show] for Upcoming Season.”

This article was printed from