Back in April, I wrote a blog post on the way social media is changing the way we watch television.
I asked the question: Will networks catch on to the importance of social media and rely more on popularity on social networks than on Nielsen ratings?
It seems I’m a fortune-teller, because Nielsen just formally announced an agreement with Twitter to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” an industry-standard metric that is based entirely on Twitter data.
Nielsen said, “As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming.” It seems that one common benchmark is social media, specifically Twitter.
As I reported back in April, 80% of Smartphone and tablet owners use their devices while watching TV and 51% of those who post on social media while watching TV do so to connect with others who might also be watching the same thing. They’re tweeting, commenting, and talking live as the events unfold during a broadcast, a notable change in how we’re experiencing television series in the age of social networking.
A recent show that broke out on social media was “Breaking Bad,” whose finale was the most tweeted about show in Twitter history with 1.24 million tweets sent during the finale.
How exactly are they going to measure a TV audience through Twitter?
The new ratings will measure activity—the number of people tweeting about television programs, and reach—the number of people who actually view those tweets.
This new measure comes just days after Twitter released its public S-1 filing, showing fast revenue growth, but a lack of profitability. This new ratings system could help Twitter grow its revenue in one key area: partnerships with traditional media companies, which is an area that Twitter said in its S-1 filing has promising growth prospects.
My concern: Twitter activity doesn’t necessarily mean huge ratings for a show. Despite the fact that CBS shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS” regularly draw more than 20 million viewers a week and are the top-rated shows on TV, they don’t break the list of the top 10 most tweeted about shows on Twitter. In fact, they don’t even come close.
It’s important to consider age demographics as well, considering many people who are tweeting are in the 18-34 demographic, whereas CBS viewers tend to skew on the older side. I’m sure that accounts for the fact that “Vampire Diaries” and the Miley Cyrus documentary cracked the top 10 on this week’s Nielsen’s Twitter ratings.
It will be interesting to follow both the traditional Nielsen viewer’s ratings and the new Twitter ratings each week to see how they align.
The next question is, will it have any impact on a networks decision to cancel or pick-up a show?
Many shows are cancelled because they don’t have enough viewers based on Nielsen ratings, but what if social media chatter could change the fate of your favorite shows at risk of cancellation?