Nielsen: Twitter 'drives audiences to turn on reality, sports and comedy shows'

By Brendan Coyne | 7 August 2013

Twitter can drive consumers to turn on the television. It's a line promoted by the company for some time. Chief scientist Deb Roy presented research which showed the amplification effect at Cannes in June. Now Nielsen has completed research that appears to confirm it. Reality TV shows, comedy and sports get the most out of Twitter, the US study suggested.

Advertising and media agencies have already recognised the potential. WPP entered a global data and analytics partnership with the company earlier this summer.

CEO Sir Martin Sorrell has also talked up the "powerful" role Twitter could play in showing on air traffic and leveraging its amplification for advertisers.

Nielsen aimed to prove whether Twitter activity drives tune-in rates for broadcast TV and vice-versa, whether broadcast TV tune-in leads to increased Twitter activity.

It analysed minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s live TV ratings and tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes. Its results suggested that live TV ratings had a meaningful impact in related tweets in about half (48%) of episodes sampled. The results also showed that the volume of tweets caused "significant" changes in live TV ratings among 29% of the episodes.

The data suggested competitive reality shows got the most out of Twitter. Tweets influenced ratings changes in nearly half (44%) of episodes. Comedy (37%) and sports (28%) also saw significant increased tune-in from tweets. Drama was less affected (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, 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 company released limited detail, did not define "significant" ratings changes, and said it would conduct more research.



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