Facebook usually rules the social media game but when you’re talking about TV, Twitter has it wrapped up. Every night, people sit down in front of the TV with their smartphones and tablets in hand and they send out Tweet after Tweet about their favorite shows. A lot of the Tweets come from second-screen apps such as Viggle and GetGlue, some from series or network specific apps and others are prompted by hashtags and overlays on the show itself.
Some TV shows, like Dancing with the Stars, include real-time Tweets from viewers in their broadcast. Others shows have stars “live Tweeting” during an episode in order to engage viewers and people are responding by the millions. It really is a social media marketing phenomena. So, it makes perfect sense for the king of TV ratings to partner with the king of social TV on a new system of measurement.
Presenting the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” system.
Steve Hasker, President, Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen said;
“The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a significant step forward for the industry, particularly as programmers develop increasingly captivating live TV and new second-screen experiences, and advertisers create integrated ad campaigns that combine paid and earned media. As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data.”
Twitter responded with kind words of their own:
“Our users love the shared experience of watching television while engaging with other viewers and show talent. Twitter has become the world’s digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time. Nielsen is who the networks rely on to give better content to viewers and clearer results to marketer. This effort reflects Nielsen’s foresight into the evolving nature of the TV viewing experience, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Twitter ecosystem partners on this metric to help broadcasters and advertisers create truly social TV experiences.”
When you get past all the congratulatory, back-slapping, it’s a pretty sweet deal. Standard TV ratings have always been used to determine the success or failure of a show based solely on the number of people who watched the show when it first aired. That was fine when we only had three networks and no ability to watch outside of the normal prime time hours. Now we have DVR’s that time-shift, shows on demand, streaming online through Netflix, Hulu and Amazon and network apps with full episodes.
NBC’s scifi series Revolution broke records in September with the biggest ratings gain for a time-shifted show. The show went from a “live” rating of 4.09 to a “live plus 3 days” rating of 5.45. Is the show less of a success because more people saved it to their DVR and watched it later? No.
When you’re talking TV, it’s all about the buzz and that’s what Twitter creates with hashtags and trending lists. If you were an advertiser, would you rather have a show with big ratings but little chatter or a show with less viewers and more chatter? You might be tempted to go for more viewers, but think about the loyalty behind shows with chatter. Those fans are committed. They’re going to buy the T-shirt and tell their friends. The ultimate is when you can get both. Look at a show like Glee. They pull in the ratings, they get the critical acclaim but they also have an audience that will buy the CDs and DVDs.
The great thing about the digital revolution is that it’s finally leading us away from the “one size fits all” mentality. A producer can create a quirky TV show aimed at a small audience and sell it through Netflix. TV writers can try something new with a series and instantly get feedback on Twitter – was it a hit or a miss? The only goal we haven’t reached yet is interactive TV. Syfy’s working on it with their new series Defiance that combines the actions of an online game with weekly episodes aired on TV. Gauging the success of a show like that with pure audience numbers would be useless. But looking at the buzz it generates on Twitter will tell you everything you need to know.
Twitter and Nielsen ratings – creative, original programming might finally live on past mid-season.