New study confirms co-relation between Twitter and TV ratings

MUMBAI: US TV viewers are taking to Twitter to talk about TV and the digital chatter is building steam.

According to SocialGuide, 32 million unique people in the U.S. Tweeted about TV in 2012. That’s quite the confab, but what does it all really mean for the TV industry? Should networks and advertisers be paying attention? Early research on the subject from US media research company Nielsen and SocialGuide says yes.

By analysing Tweets about live TV, the study confirmed a relationship between Twitter and TV ratings. It also identified Twitter as one of three statistically significant variables (in addition to prior-year rating and advertising spend) to align with TV ratings.

SocialGuide CEO Andrew Somosi said, “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 programme engagement.

“We expected to see a correlation between Twitter and TV ratings, but this study quantifies the strength of that relationship.”

Much of the correlation is being driven by the rise in media consumption across multiple device screens. 80 per cent of US tablet and smartphone owners who watch TV use their device while watching at least several times a month. 40 per cent of US tablet and smartphone users visit a social network while watching TV.

How well does Twitter align with TV program ratings? The recent Nielsen/SocialGuide study confirmed that increases in Twitter volume correlate to increases in TV ratings for varying age groups, revealing a stronger correlation for younger audiences. Specifically, the study found that for 18-34 year olds, an 8.5 per cent increase in Twitter volume corresponds to a one per cent increase in TV ratings for premiere episodes, and a 4.2 per cent increase in Twitter volume corresponds with a one per cent increase in ratings for midseason episodes. Additionally, a 14 per cent increase in Twitter volume is associated with a one per cent increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds, reflecting a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences.

Further, the study found that the correlation between Tweets and TV ratings strengthens for midseason episodes for both age groups. An increase in Twitter volume of 4.2 per cent and 8.4 per cent is associated with a one per cent increase in ratings for 18-34 year olds and 35-49 year olds, respectively. Moreover, by midseason Twitter was responsible for more of the variance in ratings for 18-34 year olds than advertising spend.

Nielsen executive VP of media analytics Mike Hess said, “The TV industry is dynamic and it was important for us to analyse multiple variables to truly understand Twitter’s impact on TV ratings.

“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.”

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