In an effort to modify their services for the social media age, Nielsen has announced a plan to measure TV-related tweets. The worldwide information gathering and measurement company released an announcement for its Twitter TV Ratings measurement yesterday, which cited the increasingly close relationship between Twitter activity and television shows. This development is the first of its kind. No other company has made the effort to measure and analyze the total activity of TV-related conversation on Twitter.
Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings will measure the number of people tweeting about TV programs as well as the number of people who view those tweets. The measurements will be delivered in two formats, called SocialGuide Intelligence and Nielsen National TV View. Furthermore, the company will produce a top ten list that will rank the best-performing episodes of the week. Analysis of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings has already produced some interesting findings. Yesterday’s press release revealed,
“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 people are tweeting about a program, 100,000 people are seeing those Tweets.”
Findings such as these may prove valuable to advertisers, networks, and other vital stakeholders in the television industry.
Nielsen’s decision to start measuring Twitter activity is certainly a smart move, given how much social media has grown and developed in the last few years. However, I have concerns about the methodology and how the information will be interpreted. A simple count of tweets alone is not enough to accurately measure how people are reacting to a television show. It’s a classic case of quality versus quantity. For example, AMC debuted Low Winter Sun after Breaking Bad in an attempt to woo viewers from the latter’s audience. Plenty of people tweeted about Low Winter Sun, but the overwhelming majority of these tweets were vehemently hostile. Most of the tweets I saw were some variant of, “WHO CARES ABOUT THIS TERRIBLE SHOW?! GIVE ME MORE BREAKING BAD! #lowwintersunsucks.” Obviously, tweets of this type should not count as positive buzz for Low Winter Sun. It appears that for now at least, Nielsen’s measurements will disregard context and simply count tweets and their views. This procedure may skew results and could produce less-than-accurate analyses. Hopefully, a more context-sensitive measurement system is in the company’s short-term plans.
What do you think about Nielsen’s new measurement program? How should the company study and analyze tweets? Give us your thoughts in the comments!