Tweeting Can Increase On Air TV Ratings

Analyzing more than 200 episodes of prime-time television programs, Nielsen determined that a surge in the number of tweets about a show increased its ratings almost a third of the time. Sending status updates in 140-character bursts on the social-networking site, can increase television ratings while a show is on air, the study found.

The reverse is also true: The more people tuning in, the more usage there is on Twitter. The study marks the first time Nielsen has established a direct link between Twitter activity and TV use, potentially helping the social-networking site attract more marketing dollars.

While the ad industry continues to rely on TV viewers, broadcasters are trying to keep consumers who are flocking to the Internet. Twitter, as part of its bid to reach $1 billion in sales by 2014, has already capitalized on its users’ overlap with TV audiences.

Chief Executive Officer, Dick Costolo, expanded a service last month that lets companies target users who tweet about the shows they’re watching. Advertisers also can augment their TV commercials by reaching the same audiences via Twitter, helping reinforce their message. Marketers typically look for ways to reach consumers multiple times within a given period, a common advertising tactic known as frequency targeting.

The study found that Twitter chatter had a greater impact on certain TV genres.

  • Tweets around reality programming influenced ratings for 44% of episodes
  • Comedy shows benefited from Twitter usage 37% of the time
  • Sports programs got a boost 28% of the time
  • Drama shows were affected 18% of the time

Even so, smaller dramas such as ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” have benefited from a Twitter-using audience. The show garnered more than 1.6 million Twitter comments around last year’s season finale, part of an effort by parent company Walt Disney Co. to help drive viewership.

Twitter has staked a large part of its future growth on convincing advertisers and TV programmers of its influence over common viewing habits, akin to a virtual water cooler. As part of that strategy, Twitter acquired data and analytics firm Bluefin Labs for about $100 million earlier this year to analyze Web discussions generated by TV programs.

Twitter is working directly with TV networks to help increase viewing as well as brokering new ad partnerships in which both the social network and TV programmers can benefit from new promotions.

“…these results substantiate what many of our TV partners have been telling us anecdotally for years… that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming…” Ali Rowghani, Twitter’s chief operating officer, said in a statement accompanying the Nielsen study.

For more about the study by Nielsen, please visit here.



5 comments about "Tweeting Can Increase On Air TV Ratings".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 12, 2013 at 7:45 a.m.

    What is the size of the ratings boost, on average, resulting from the surge? It must be tiny because none of these releases give the tiniest clue, just frequencies.

  2. Kate Bacon from Well Dunne! Talent, August 12, 2013 at 9:07 a.m.

    Any research about local news ratings benefiting?

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 12, 2013 at 11:43 a.m.

    Consider the source and consider audience of the one example.

  4. Jack Loechner from Mediapost Communications, August 12, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.

    good idea, Kate... I'll keep my eyes open... j

  5. Jeffrey Hardy from FilmProfit, LLC, August 12, 2013 at 7:10 p.m.

    Isn't it true that the reality on this was that the movements were very minimal, and that even the progenitors had to caveat it as "may," meaning that its like saying yelling at a glacier may make it melt more, because of your hot air. It was far from definitive, meaning, meaningless in the end, except for someone grasping at thin air... I believe that was the real analysis on it.

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