Nielsen Names Top TV on Twitter

Some 10 months after signing an exclusive partnership deal with Twitter, Nielsen has launched its TV ratings system for the social media giant.

The Nielsen Co. 's new measurement index for Twitter Inc. tracks the volume of tweets generated by different television shows in the US. It also tracks the number of unique authors posting TV-specific tweets and provides information about the audience of Twitter users viewing tweets about each program.

To mark the launch, Nielsen has begun releasing a weekly top 10 list of the most popular shows on Twitter. For the week of October 3, the TV show Scandal won by a landslide for number of tweets generated and overall audience impressions. Miley: The Movement and Saturday Night Live came in a distant second and third, respectively, although both shows were closer to meeting Scandal's numbers as measured by size of the unique Twitter audience reached.

The pairing of Twitter and TV is big business. With the new service, Nielsen is trying to make the most of its acquisition of SocialGuide last November, as well as its exclusive deal with Twitter. (See Nielsen Tests Tool to Track TV Everywhere.)

Twitter participation is still limited in the US, but it continues to grow. While less than 20 percent of online adults in the country use Twitter according to the Pew Research Center, Nielsen notes that "19 million unique people in the US composed 263 million Tweets about live TV in Q2 2013 alone, a 24 percent year-over-year increase in authors and a 38 percent increase in Tweet volume."

Meanwhile, Twitter isn't the only data set that programmers and advertisers are using to supplement Nielsen's traditional TV ratings numbers. Set-top data has also emerged as a leading source of information on TV viewing behavior. Some cable companies license set-top data to third parties, while others use it primarily for their own advertising sales. (See Cable Embraces Big Data.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

albreznick 10/10/2013 | 5:45:07 PM
Re: Twitts How annoying, Jim. Whatever happened to the good old days of reality shows? 
albreznick 10/10/2013 | 5:42:38 PM
Re: viewing v tweeting Good qauestion, Sarah. Not sure if we know the answer to that yet. But I'll bet you're right. The most tweeted about shows are not necessarily the most watched and there even be an inverse relationship there. the bigger question, tho, is who is watching "Miley." Are you a secret fan of the show? 
jhodgesk1s 10/9/2013 | 12:46:32 PM
Re: Twitts What's worse is when they feed the tweets into the show itself. I have seen this a few times on reality shows. A bit like those movies with pop-up information notes.
mendyk 10/9/2013 | 12:04:40 PM
Re: viewing v tweeting Nielsen probably views this as an opportunity to add to its portfolio of services (Top 20 Tweeted-About TV Shows!). No doubt there are plenty of advertisers that want to target SM addicts. It still seems like a weird way to go about things, though.
Sarah Thomas 10/9/2013 | 11:54:01 AM
viewing v tweeting Is this being correlated to viewing numbers also? I imagine some of the most Tweeted about shows (ie Miley) are not the most watched, although I'm sure they have to be pretty close.
mendyk 10/9/2013 | 11:49:08 AM
Twitts With all the technology available to capture everything that everybody does digitally, using Twitter posts to calibrate ratings is unintuitive to say the least.
Phil_Britt 10/9/2013 | 11:42:07 AM
Could be a better rating system Twitter could be a better rating system than some others that Nielsen has used, because it requires people to be a little more actively involved. Other reporting systems have lent themselves to some people saying they are watching "high-brow" television when they are actually watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. There were also instances (according to the mass com classes I took in college) of people with Nielsen set top boxes leaving the TV with the box on something like PBS, while secretly watching Green Acres or some similar show on another set.


Of course people can discuss shows on Twitter that they never watched, but they still have to take the effort to do so, which does raise awareness of program. But wether they watch or not, they can skip commercials, which is one of the prime business drivers behind the Neilsen ratings.
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