Nielsen Adapts to Social TV - Data Week


By Molly Freeman

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Last December, Nielsen Company announced their partnership with Twitter to develop a new rating metric that would measure the reach of television conversation on the social media site. The new Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will launch with the fall 2013 television season.

Nielsen cited that with 140 million users sending out billions of tweets every few days, Twitter is a previously untapped data resource for the company. The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will be a standardized metric that uses data from online and mobile conversations about television to paint a clearer picture of what shows are being talked about around the cyber-water cooler.

As described by Nielsen, the rating metric is “the first-ever measurement of the total audience for social TV activity – both those participating in the conversation and those who were exposed to the activity – providing the precise size of the audience and effect of social TV to TV programming.”

Following the announcement of the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, Nielsen and SocialGuide, a social TV analytics site recently acquired by Nielsen, conducted a study that found a correlation between Twitter and TV ratings.

While the results of the study may seem obvious, proof that the volume of tweets align with TV ratings puts more momentum behind the company’s upcoming rating metric. Not surprisingly, the connection is much stronger among the younger demographics.

For premiere episodes in the 2011-2012 television season, the study found “an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 18-34 year olds. Additionally, a 14.0% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds.”

Although the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating won’t be commercially available until the fall, Nielsen is already including social media figures into the formula that determines the Billboard Hot 100. In February, Nielsen and Billboard announced that YouTube streaming data would be included along with digital downloads, physical single sales, radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming to determine the Hot 100 and Hot 100 formula-based genre lists.

Bill Werde, editorial director of Billboard, explained that the charts needed to evolve and incorporate all the ways to experience music with the current technology.

“When the charts launched over 70 years ago, a hit was defined as selling copies of a single or generating airplay. While those avenues are still viable, one needn’t look any further than Cee Lo, Gotye, PSY or now Baauer to know that a song can be a massive hit on YouTube alone,” says Werde.

Both these efforts by Nielsen are a response to social media that consumers of entertainment have been anticipating. The relationship between television and audiences through social media has become undoubtedly apparent in recent years.

The “Six Seasons and a Movie” Twitter hashtag was used by fans of NBC’s Community to protest the network putting the show on an indefinite hiatus in season three. Fans of the CW drama Emily Owens M.D. created the hashtag “Resuscitate Emily Owens” in an effort to prove that the new show had a dedicated following. But these are just a few examples of one way viewers interact with TV on social media.

GetGlue, a social site for television fans, allows viewers to “check in” to the shows they watch in order to receive stickers, recommendations and discounts from some entertainment companies. Many programs, such as HBO’s Game of Thrones and BBC’s Doctor Who, promote GetGlue on their Facebook pages.

As a result of all the online social interaction with television, Nielsen, with the help of Twitter, is diving into social TV analytics. While Nielsen has SocialGuide, Twitter also recently acquired the analytics site Bluefin Labs.

Using a technology platform, Bluefin measures social conversations about television and commercials in order to create quantifiable data that the site can offer to networks and advertisers. After the Super Bowl, Bluefin analyzed all 30.6 million tweets and Facebook comments about the sporting event; they created a list of the top ten commercials according to the 3.9 million social media comments just about the advertisements.

This year, Nielsen is updating its rating system to include web-linked devices, creating an entirely new metric based on social media, and even diving into social TV analytics. The company is finally tapping into all the data that has become available with new technology and incorporating it into their determination of ratings with the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating.