In a recent study, Nielsen didn’t focus on the demo of social media users. But it did measure average Twitter activity for new episodes of 457 English- and Spanish-language prime-time series programs. It found that eight program characteristics — whether a show was broadcast or cable, drama or non-drama, etc. -- “proved to be statistically significant” in determining “the average volume of program-related Tweets sent each week for any given program,” according to the study.
According to the model, it might be able to determine, for example: How much social activity should there be for a one-hour broadcast drama that averages a live TV audience of 3 million people each week?
Nielsen didn’t answer that question -- nor did it go into detail about specific shows covered. It would be good to see the results not just for younger-skewing shows that register big social media results, but older-skewing shows, like “The Good Wife” or “Dancing with the Stars.
Other questions arise: What about high social media engagement for a low-rated traditional TV show? Are these users necessarily worth more to marketers? Could they be worth less?
TV executives will continue to hone social media data, but things will change -- perhaps soon. It will be important to analyze aging millennials -- now long familiar with social media -- going forward.
Analysts would like to believe social media could be a representative, real-time measure of how TV shows are performing. But there is still a long ways to go, especially considering what kinds of specific users/viewers are active.