Twitter impacts TV ratings, says Nielsen

The amount of buzz a TV show gets on Twitter directly correlates to audience figures, according to a new study by research firm Nielsen.

The research, which carried out by Nielsen and SocialGuide – the social TV measurement and analytics firm that Nielsen acquired in November – found that increases in Twitter volume related to increased ratings, particularly among those aged 18-34.

In this age group, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume corresponded with a 1% ratings jump for premiere episodes. For mid-season shows the same increase in ratings was linked to a mere 4.2% increase in Twitter volume, the research claimed.

Among those aged 35-49, a 14% increase in Twitter volume related to a 1% audience increase for a show premiere, and an 8.4% increase in Twitter volume correlated to a 1% viewer rise for mid-season shows.

“While prior-year rating accounts for the lion’s share of the variability in TV ratings, Twitter’s presence as a top three influencer tells us that Tweeting about live TV may affect program engagement. We expected to see a correlation between Twitter and TV ratings, but this study quantifies the strength of that relationship,” said Andrew Somosi, CEO of SocialGuide.

Nielsen’s  executive vice president of media analytics Mike Hess added:  “While our study doesn’t prove causality, the correlation we uncovered is significant and we will continue our research to deepen the industry’s understanding of this relationship.”

According to SocialGuide stats, 32 million people in the US Tweeted about TV in 2012, while 80% of US tablet and smartphone owners who watch TV use their device while watching several times a month.

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