Nielsen Twitter TV ratings revealed -- viewers are distracted

Whenever I watch TV, my tablet is with me. I am often tweeting, instant messaging and playing games while "watching" TV. Because I am so distracted, I must use the term "watching" loosely and apparently, I am not alone. You see, tweeting while watching television is so prevalent, that Nielsen and Twitter teamed-up to establish a social TV rating last year.

At the time, Twitter said "as the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming. This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating". Today, almost a year later, the results of the agreement have come to fruition.

"For perspective on the relationship between authors and audience, an initial analysis of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings reveals that the Twitter TV audience for an episode is, on average, 50 times larger than the authors who are generating Tweets. For example, if 2,000 are Tweeting about a program, 100,000 people are seeing those Tweets", says Nielsen.

The company further says, "this multiplier varies across programs, with the early data indicating that the ratio of the audience to the authors generally decreases (meaning the multiplier is smaller) as the number of authors sending Tweets about an episode increases. That’s because of the increasing overlap of followers as the number of Twitter authors grows. Comparatively, a single follower is increasingly likely to follow multiple authors".

 In other words, more viewers are reading tweets about TV shows than those sending them. While Nielsen implies that Twitter activity by viewers indicates engagement, and it probably does, I question whether that is a good thing. After all, the top-five TV shows based on Twitter activity are all advertisement sponsored. Those same viewers are likely spending time on Twitter as opposed to paying attention to the advertisements. Arguably, a TV network may prefer not to be on the top of this list.

Image Credit: ascha/Shutterstock

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