Nielsen + Twitter = More Big Data About TV Viewership

This week Nielsen unveiled a new ratings system that will measure Twitter activity and conversation around TV shows. Skeptics say tweets may not fully represent the extent of audiences' involvement.

What's the Latest Development?


Starting this week, Nielsen has begun measuring TV watching in segments of 140 characters or less: The Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings will track, among other things, the number of tweets made about a particular show and the number of distinct accounts that are seeing those tweets. For example, 98,600 people tweeted 225,000 posts about last month's season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy," but those posts were seen by 2.8 million accounts, according to Nielsen. Future measurements will include how an individual TV star's posts about their show affect its viewing audience.

What's the Big Idea?

Research has demonstrated that Twitter activity can increase TV viewership, and that's one of the selling points included in the prospectus for the social media company's upcoming initial public offering. Furthermore, Nielsen believes that networks will start using the new ratings to help promote their shows in the same way they use standard broadcast ratings. However, despite the explosion of Twitter, market research data provided by the Keller Fay Group indicates that 80 percent of conversations about TV still occur offline.

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