TV Viewership Intricately Tied To Tweeting
August 6, 2013

TV Viewership Intricately Tied To Tweeting

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Will a Tweet make or break a show on television? A recent report released by Nielsen Research suggests a two-way influence between Twitter activity and broadcast tune-in TV shows. The study examined Nielsen's Live TV Ratings and Tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen's SocialGuide to come up with its findings.

Nielsen finds that as many as 48 percent of the episodes it used in its sample experienced a significant impact in related Tweets. Additionally, the volume of Tweets caused a statistically significant change in Live TV ratings for 29 percent of the episodes. Nielsen used the time series analysis developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger.

"Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of Tweets, and, conversely, a spike in Tweets can increase tune-in," said Paul Donato, chief research officer for Nielsen in a statement. "This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry as a whole with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing."

Viewers might actually be swayed by Tweets. The report finds that higher levels of tweeting can bring in additional viewers. Nielsen also finds that increases in TV ratings during an episode can also increase Tweets. That is, a well-rated show might get Tweets so people are associated with a popular brand or show, and also that people will view Tweets about that popular show as an endorsement and be inclined to watch.

"These results substantiate what many of our TV partners have been telling us anecdotally for years: namely, that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming," said Twitter's Chief Operating Officer Ali Rowghani in a statement. "As the world's preeminent real-time social communication medium, Twitter is a complementary tool for broadcasters to engage their audience, drive conversation about their programming, and increase tune-in."

While viewers benefit from Tweets about TV shows, in that they get recommendations for good programming, media companies also benefit from the Twitter activity.

"Media companies and advertisers have already made investments in social media outreach as a means of engaging more directly with consumers, and we believe there are worthwhile opportunities for Nielsen to conduct additional research that can help quantify the relationships between television and social media activity," said Donato.

Tweets can also influence what shows get renewed, or canceled. Fans of several shows have made attempts to reverse a cancellation by snail mail campaigns. Most recently fans sent sardines to Showtime's head of entertainment, David Nevins to try to get 'The Borgias,' a recently canceled TV show, back on Showtime's programming. Perhaps fans would get better results from turning to Twitter and other social media platforms to keep their favorite shows alive.

It's not only television programming that gets a boost from Tweets. Recent research released by Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh examined Twitter stardom, and the effect on the number of Tweets a user posts when there are more followers to listen.