Engaged Twitter Users Can Boost TV Ratings


July 30, 2014

This blog was originally posted on
Conviva Acquired Delmondo in November of 2018 and has become Conviva Social Insights.

Twitter has been a serious catalyst for the advancement of television in the past few years. We have real-time social conversations about our favorite TV shows with friends and complete strangers more than ever before.

And while we’re clearly able to see the rise of Social TV with the infiltration of social into the broadcast experience through hashtags, socially curated experiences and onscreen visualizations, there has never been a real statistical correlation between Ratings and Tweets.

Data from Nielsen confirms what most of us already knew, a higher volume of Tweets has a general correlation with an increase in ratings for shows during that time period. Nielsen’s SocialGuide analyzed minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s live TV ratings and tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes and found that live TV ratings had a meaningful impact in related tweets among 48 percent of the episodes sampled.

A heightened volume of tweets caused significant changes in live TV ratings among 29 percent of the episodes.

One of the first studies to provide hard, statistical evidence of a two-way causal influence between broadcast TV tune-in for a program and the Twitter conversation around that program, it further reinforces that Twitter and Broadcast media are perfect partners for connecting consumers to new content both on and offline.

“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, Nielsen.

“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.”

People on Twitter love talking about what’s on TV, TV provides an ever-changing selection of topics to talk about and viewers love using Twitter to find new content to watch on TV. This relationship is quite cyclical, and it makes sense too.

If all your basketball friends start tweeting about how Lebron James is on his way to an 80 point game or Clint Eastwood is rambling to an invisible chair and you’re already propped up on the couch, it’s likely that you’re going to flip and check that out. Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 12.05.24 PM

It’s not just the broadcasters who are benefitting from that lift. Advertisers understand there is an increasing relationship between the campaigns they run during peak hours of TV watching and the reactions they can garner from those ads online in the moment. As a result, Twitter has been working on new ad models allowing advertisers to target users who have been exposed to their ads on TV.

So how can broadcasters and advertisers take advantage of Twitter on TV?

Close the Feedback Loop by Visualizing Social Data

One of the maxims people often exclaim about social media is “people are talking about you online if you’re there or not.” But just being there isn’t enough anymore to break through all the clutter that lives on Twitter. TV Shows (and their advertisers) are constantly competing with one another, networks competing with networks, shows with shows, blogs with news orgs, and they’re all normalized in the same feed of one consumer. Create a reason for people to talk about you before, during, and after your program. Don’t just let the conversations happen naturally, but be active and engaging with fans. For the most part, people love recognition, especially from anyone remotely connected to a show they’re tweeting about. Using show hashtags to collect, curate, and visualize tweets on site or on air (with a platform like Livefyre or Wayin) offers personal recognition at a large scale and activates new waves of users to create content.

Create exclusive opportunities that people wouldn’t normally have

Primary access is key. Give your audience an experience they might not ever get the chance to experience normally. From writers and directors to cast and crew, TV shows have a number of entry points to create new discussions and social campaigns.