Does Twitter Drive Tune-In?

Twitter has bet big on TV, establishing a new department, a standardized rating system and advertiser products like Amplify which re-purpose video content within tweets . Yet, for many the focus seems to be on compelling content from the actors. It has to respond to the programming in real-time, be human and offer exclusive viewing like behind-the-scenes footage. Yet, the argument can be made that all of these interactions are supplementary to the show, attracting all the hardcore viewers but likely not additional tune-in.  While some shows can generate thousands of tweets per minute, did that really affect the ratings? That’s the argument Twitter needs to make with the networks to be successful at the moment.

Fortunately, we’ll soon be able to judge whether Twitter actually drives ratings, thanks to a new metric called the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating. The statistic will be able to judge the social media impact of a program, looking at the total audience for social TV activity, both in terms of the size of the populace participating on social activity about shows, as well as those who were exposed to the activity but didn’t take part. In so doing, Twitter and Nielsen are looking specifically at the size of the effect of social TV on TV programming.

So although there’s not an immediate metric to say that, yes, twitter did affect ratings, it’s now possible to look at the social TV metrics, in conjunction with Nielsen ratings spikes, and effectively reverse engineer the correlated results. Certainly, correlation doesn’t equal causation, but by taking stock of the Social TV rating, the regular Nielsen ratings, their conjoined movements, and other external factors (for instance, the social media buzz around Breaking Bad that undoubtedly drove ratings up), we will have a much clearer picture of social’s effects in the TV ratings sphere.