An increase in Twitter volume about live TV correlates with an increase in TV ratings across varying age groups, finds Nielsen in a study conducted with SocialGuide. Analyzing tweets about live TV, the study determined that Twitter was one of 3 statistically significant variables to align with TV ratings. The other two are prior-year rating and advertising spend. Nielsen cautions that the “study doesn’t prove causality.”
Examining the results, Nielsen reveals that for 18-34-year-olds, an 8.5% rise in Twitter volume corresponds with a 1% increase in TV ratings for premiere episodes. By midseason, the relationship is stronger, with a 4.2% gain in Twitter volume corresponding with a 1% rise in TV ratings.
For the 35-49 age group, a 14% increase in Twitter volume corresponded with the 1% rise in ratings for premiere episodes, while for midseason episodes, the associated Twitter volume increase was 8.4%. That suggests that the relationship between Twitter and TV is stronger among the younger group, a fairly intuitive result. Notably, by midseason, Twitter accounted for more variance in ratings for the 18-34 group than advertising spend.
The finding, should it hold up in further research Nielsen plans to conduct, is an important one for the TV industry, which has been grappling with the effects of increased multi-screening behavior. It follows from survey-based research last year by TV Guide survey, which found that social media buzz affects the TV viewing patterns of some adults. More recent data from Nielsen indicates that up to half of 25-34-year-olds visit social networking sites on their smartphones during both commercials and programs while watching TV.
Previous research has also found Twitter to dominate the social TV landscape, and Twitter itself recently said that about two-thirds of its primarily mobile users visit the site in front of the TV.