Twitter has become a force all its own, and a recent partnership with Nielsen is proof that the social network has mainstream
reach, too. Now, a Nielsen research report is suggesting that tweet count does indeed have a link to TV ratings. 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.”
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, there you have it: tweets and TV go hand in hand, or so it seems.