New Twitter Ratings from Nielsen Won't Save Your Favorite Low-Rated Shows, But They Will Be Fun Anyway!

Categories: 1-Featured,Broadcast TV,Cable TV,Internet TV

Written By

December 17th, 2012

The year 2012 is coming to and end and TV advertising still foots most of the bill for your favorite broadcast network shows and pays for a whole lot of your cable favorites too. From a ratings perspective advertisers care about how many people watch their commercials.

One simple way to think about why the newly announced Nielsen/Twitter ratings won't matter much to advertisers is this: Twitter can skew --some might say "be gamed"-- in ways the Nielsen TV ratings (as opposed to the newly announced Nielsen TV Twitter ratings) can't be. A relatively small audience (compared to say, NCIS or The Voice) can make an outsized amount of noise on Twitter  as it is. I look forward (I'm not kidding) to the torrent of "RT to Save Our Show <insert show here>!!! IT WILL BE COUNTED" that will be unleashed on us all.

But as far as the TV advertisers are concerned the loud cries on Twitter will only matter if they make a difference in terms of the number of people who actually watch their commercials and if that happens it will show up in the regular Nielsen TV ratings anyway.

The new measurement makes a lot of sense for almost everyone involved.

They make a boatload of sense for Twitter: "Look at us now. We've got Britney, Lebron, The Kardashians, The Pope and Nielsen! We're a big part of the television landscape!" And there's no doubt that Twitter actually is a big part about the discussion of television shows on the Internet. But discussion does not equal payment.

It makes sense a boatload of sense for the networks. Twitter is basically free marketing and PR for the networks and their shows. While I speculate that the networks probably don't need the additional metric to figure out how to best manage their internal and external social networking resources, the new measurement can help with that too. And of course there is the opportunity for stuff like this: "The New #1 Hit Show on Twitter!" It's brilliant!

The new measurement makes sense for Nielsen, too. It's another product it can sell. Nielsen can say "hey, we're not stuck in 1965. We're hip to the times!" But my favorite part is the opportunity to give a lot of people the illusion that their voice matters. "Tweet and you will be counted!" It will all be true, they will count you in their twitter metric.

But unless and until it matters to the advertisers, it won't make any difference at all in terms of which shows get cancelled and renewed. Some will say: "bah, nobody watches TV anymore and the current advertising model is going away!" But plenty of people told us that five years ago before we  even launched this site. Five years later and people are still watching a boatload of TV. Lots of people are talking about TV shows on Twitter, and that wasn't the case five years ago. But TV advertising, not Twitter, is still footing most of the bill.

Yep,  I know TV advertising isn't paying for your HBO, Showtime, etc. pay channel favorites. But Twitter isn't paying for those either. You are!

 
  • Mary

    Don’t be all cynical! I mean, I’m sure you’re right but it doesn’t seem nice to rub people’s noses in it.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “Don’t be all cynical! I mean, I’m sure you’re right but it doesn’t seem nice to rub people’s noses in it.”

    TV by the Numbers, cynically rubbing people’s noses in it since 2007(tm).

  • greysfan

    HAHA this is a joke right? Twitter will now record TV Ratings? What next?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    TV by the Numbers, cynically rubbing people’s noses in it since 2007(tm).

    while there are many posts (most of them Bill’s, of course, but not all of them!) where I could understand that response, this post wasn’t particularly cynical and I’m not seeing the nose-rubbing. Sure, it was written from the point of view of someone who accepts and is OK that their personal TV viewing isn’t counted and doesn’t matter, and I understand not everyone feels as I do on that score. But the post was meant to specifically answer the question of “will this matter to renew/cancel decisions” and to try to explain why it won’t in this case.

  • Bee

    if only twitter was used, scandal would be the highest rated show on TV bar none haha at times, it’ll have 6 of the top 10 trending topics.

  • John K.

    What remains to be seen is whether these shows are causing viewers of these shows to use Twitter more frequently, which would, as a result increase the Twitter ad rates.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “But the post was meant to specifically answer the question of “will this matter to renew/cancel decisions” and to try to explain why it won’t in this case”

    Ah, but to the first commenter, simply answering that question was cynical nose rubbing.

    My comment had nothing to do with your post. I didn’t even read it.

  • Tom

    I can certainly believe that a small number of determined fans can make a disproportionate impact on any online site. Just look at the excessive concentration of posts on this site submitted by posters trying to spin various low rated CW shows.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Ah, but to the first commenter, simply answering that question was cynical nose rubbing.

    There’s no doubt that’s true, and I have to accept that!

  • One

    Be prepared for a bunch of crazy psychos, and a s__tload of sock puppet Twitter feeds trying to make a load of noise that doesn’t really exist…

  • Max Vrany

    My comment had nothing to do with your post. I didn’t even read it.

    If that’s how this site runs, I shudder to think about what happened behind the scenes before Sara and Amanda came. :mrgreen:

  • Common Anomaly

    “It makes sense a boatload of sense for the networks.”

    This doesn’t make cents.

  • One @ Max Vrany

    Before Sara and Amanda came, the daily workload was much too high for Bill and Robert to achieve their desired levels of skullduggery. They spent far too much time banning sock puppets, since, you know – they don’t like that kind of phantom support inflation.

  • Mari

    If this is true:

    “SocialGuide, recently acquired by Nielsen and NM Incite, currently captures Twitter TV activity for all U.S. programming across 234 TV channels in English and Spanish, and more than 36,000 programs. Through a sophisticated classification process, SocialGuide matches Tweets to TV programs to offer key social TV metrics including the number of [b]unique[/b] Tweets associated with a given program and rankings for the most social TV programs.”

    Than the RT twitter campaign that you mentioned above wouldn’t have any affect. Right?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “If that’s how this site runs, I shudder to think about what happened behind the scenes before Sara and Amanda came.”

    Nothing so potentially interesting as that, at least in my case. Robert and I agree on most things to such an extent, we differ very little on matters of substance.

  • Fake Me Out

    I don’t Twit so I may be off base here but doesn’t this have the potential to boomerang and reduce the number of people (real people, not sock puppet people) who follow a show and/or network and/or actor? If I follow a show that has a modest amount of tweets but now is being flooded by crazed fans trying to scam the numbers aren’t I just as likely to stop following it just to cut down on the eNoise?

  • One

    The brief discussion of the pre-Amanda and Sara era of TVBTN has led me to wonder why they don’t express their thoughts of things more often. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Sara in the comment feeds.

  • Common Anomaly

    “In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Sara in the comment feeds.”

    My guess is she always on twitter.

  • iggy agrimotor

    Twitter keeps me abreast of when Pootie Tang is on.

  • John K.

    Further on my previous comment, the ad revenue from this site can be attributed to fans of low-rated shows. So these shows are making money for someone, whether or not for the network.

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