Nielsen: Twitter Activity Influences TV Viewing

Nielsen has released a new research report that it says provides the first statistical evidence that Tweets can boost broadcast TV tune-in for a program and that TV ratings impacts the volume of Twitter activity.

An analysis of Nielsen's Live TV Ratings and Tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen's SocialGuide found 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 study is a notable validation of the importance of social media efforts to promote programs and increase viewer engagement. Nielsen is calling it "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 found that impact of Tweets varied by genre.

The biggest impact was in competitive reality, where ratings for 44% of the episodes were impacted by tweets, followed by comedy (37%), sports (28%) and drama (18%).

"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 at Nielsen in a statement. "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."

"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," added Ali Rowghani, Twitter's COO in a statement. "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."