Study Links Twitter Dialogue With TV Ratings — Now What?


Sure, you might like tweeting during ABC’s #modernfamily, but have you ever wondered whether the Twitter dialogue might influence the show’s ratings?

The TV ratings powerhouse Nielsen says they’ve cracked the code on that relationship, with a first-of-its-kind study that proves a two-way causal influence between broadcast TV tune-in for a program and the Twitter conversation around that program.

According to the Twitter Causation Study, Nielsen found that Twitter messages were shown to cause a significant increase in viewership 29 percent of the time, while ratings had an effect on the volume of Twitter messages 48 percent of the time. Certain program genres also proved more amenable to a response on Twitter.

Nielsen says the data proves that more research is needed in this area.

For example, the report doesn’t include commercials, which Nielsen says is an area that’s ripe for measurement. The ratings firm adds that one next step in research might include quantifying how Tweet volume changes TV ratings.

For example, we know that the “Sharknado” was all the rage on Twitter, but that traffic didn’t produce a spike in viewership for the SyFy movie.

Nielsen tells us the study was limited to measuring Tweets about TV programs, using data from SocialGuide during each episode to measure if there was a causal impact. It analyzed minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s Live TV Ratings and Tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes.

Twitter and Nielsen have a business relationship already; and all of this data is more evidence that Twitter is trying to monetize its platform.

Andrew Foxwell, director of social for the search engine marketing firm PPC Associates in Chicago, adds:

“Consumers today want to be part of everything they can and love to be information leaders. In social circles, the most up-to-date person who grabs news from the Twittersphere has a sense of victory when they can inform friends about something that’s happening, in real-time, in their world. To this end, it’s no surprise that Twitter and TV absolutely are showing statistical correlation of usage. Instead of watching commercials, consumers are turning to their smart phones and tablets, just as they are during any other spare moment. And more often than not, Twitter becomes a place to interact with others and make TV an interactive medium. Twitter has invested heavily in creating ad products around the dual-screen experience and will continue to prove that this does indeed happen on a regular basis.”

Readers, do you join the Twitter conversation around your favorite TV shows?

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