Nielsen: Twitter Really Does Help TV Ratings Sometimes, But TV Ratings Help Twitter Much, Much More

Categories: Broadcast TV,Cable TV,Internet TV,Network TV Press Releases

Written By

August 6th, 2013

Twitter bird

Nielsen research shows not just correlation between Twitter and TV viewing, but also a real causal effect.  The key quick takeaways here were not very surprising. One is that at least some of the time, and at least a little bit, Twitter does help. But  most of the time Twitter has no causal impact on TV ratings (in 71% of the episodes it did not, but 29% of the time it did). Also, watching TV is much more likely to cause people to tweet than reading Twitter is likely to cause them to watch TV.

via press release:

Findings Validate That Tweets Can Influence Tune-in Rates
While TV Programming Drives Twitter Activity

New York, NY – Aug. 6, 2013 – Today Nielsen released findings, which, for the first time, provide statistical evidence of a two-way causal influence between broadcast TV tune-in for a program and the Twitter conversation around that program. Nielsen’s Twitter Causation Study included time series analysis to determine if Twitter activity drives increased tune-in rates for broadcast TV and if broadcast TV tune-in leads to increased Twitter activity. This latest study follows research released earlier this year that quantified the correlation between TV ratings and Twitter.

Analyzing minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s Live TV Ratings and Tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the findings show that Live TV ratings had a statistically significant impact in related Tweets among 48 percent of the episodes sampled, and that the volume of Tweets caused statistically significant changes in Live TV Ratings among 29 percent of the episodes. The time series analysis methodology used for this study was developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger, and is widely used in the fields of econometrics, physics, and neuroscience, among others.

“Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of Tweets, and, conversely, a spike in Tweets can increase tune-in,” said Paul Donato, Chief Research Officer, Nielsen. “This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry as a whole with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing.”

This is the first study to quantify the extent to which higher levels of tweeting may cause additional viewers to tune in to programming. The results also demonstrate what many industry observers thought to be true – that increases in TV ratings during an episode cause more people to tweet more often. This may be because there are more people available to tweet about a show, or because more compelling content drives people to tweet more often.

"These results substantiate what many of our TV partners have been telling us anecdotally for years: namely, that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming,” said Ali Rowghani, Twitter’s Chief Operating Officer. “As the world's preeminent real-time social communication medium, Twitter is a complementary tool for broadcasters to engage their audience, drive conversation about their programming, and increase tune-in."

“Media companies and advertisers have already made investments in social media outreach as a means of engaging more directly with consumers, and we believe there are worthwhile opportunities for Nielsen to conduct additional research that can help quantify the relationship between television and social media activity,” said Donato.

Nielsen’s Twitter Causation Study was conducted independently as part of a broader body of research to better understand and quantify the relationships between media consumption and related social media activity. More detailed findings from the Nielsen Twitter Causation Study are available here.

ABOUT NIELSEN

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

ABOUT NIELSEN’S SOCIALGUIDE

SocialGuide (www.socialguide.com), a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey, is the leading provider of social TV measurement, analytics and audience engagement solutions. SocialGuide identifies, captures and analyzes conversation on Twitter in real time for every program aired across 240 of the most popular U.S. television channels, including Spanish language channels.

more via Nielsen:

Social media and TV programming have become fast friends, and, for many of us, the two are transforming how we watch television. In fact, Twitter has become a popular destination where fans can talk about their favorite TV shows in real-time. But do tweets drive consumers to tune-in to a program, or are viewers just chatting about shows they’re already watching?

The answer is both. A new independent study by Nielsen provides, for the first time, statistical evidence of a two-way causal influence between broadcast TV tune-in for a program and the Twitter conversation around that program. The study used time series analysis to determine if Twitter activity drives increased tune-in rates for broadcast TV and if broadcast TV tune-in leads to increased Twitter activity. By analyzing minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s live TV ratings and tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the study found that live TV ratings had a meaningful impact in related tweets among 48 percent of the episodes sampled. The results also showed that the volume of tweets caused significant changes in live TV ratings among 29 percent of the episodes.

“Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of tweets, and, conversely, a spike in tweets can increase tune-in,” said Paul Donato, Nielsen’s chief research officer. “This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing.”

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This is the first study to quantify the extent to which higher levels of tweeting may cause additional viewers to tune in to programming. The study also looked at the impact of tweets on TV ratings by program genre, and found that the influence can differ by genre. Tweets had the greatest impact on programs in the competitive reality genre, influencing ratings changes in nearly half (44%) of episodes. Episodes in the comedy (37%) and sports (28%) genres also saw significant increased tune-in from tweets, while programs in the drama genre were less affected (18%) by tweets during episodes.

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The results also demonstrate what many industry observers thought to be true—that increases in TV ratings during an episode cause more people to tweet more often. This may be because there are more people available to tweet about a show, or because more compelling content drives people to tweet more often.

So what do the findings mean for the broadcast TV industry, and what’s next for Nielsen?

“Media companies and advertisers have already made investments in social media outreach as a means of engaging more directly with consumers, and we believe there are worthwhile opportunities for Nielsen to conduct additional research that can help quantify the relationship between television and social media activity,” said Donato.

 
  • s0303

    i love how shows encourage people to tweet during the show…i would guess the busiest time they are tweeting is during the commercials…wonder how the advertisers feel about that :)

  • Ultima

    @s0303
    i would guess the busiest time they are tweeting is during the commercials…wonder how the advertisers feel about that

    Presumably, tweeting is preferable to channel flipping or leaving the room. Plus it would encourage live viewing as opposed to commercial-skipping DVR viewing.

  • Aron

    Xfactor dominated the WW trends every week. But their ratings were still down

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