Twitter in position to help prime-time TV ratings

Twitter can help to improve TV ratings according to a new study released by the research experts at Nielsen.

Nielsen’s figures reveal a “two-way causal influence” between broadcast TV tune-in and the conversation on Twitter around the programme.

“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.

The study analysed 221 episodes of primetime shows and found that TV ratings directly affected the number of related tweets in 48 per cent of the episodes examined. In addition, the volume of tweets brought on changes in live TV ratings for 29 per cent of episodes.

“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,” Donato added.

Twitter stated the evidence merely confirmed what their TV partners have been telling them for some time and serves to backup Twitter’s decision to invest “heavily” in TV.

"These results substantiate what many of our TV partners have been telling us anecdotally for years: namely, that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming,” said Ali Rowghani, COO at Twitter.

Twitter isn’t the only social firm to be taking TV seriously with Facebook among those trying to use it as a revenue stream. Just last week rumours emerged that Facebook is looking at offering TV advertising on its site with the plan to sell 15-second slots for up to $2.6 million [£1.6 million] per day.

TV advertising still dwarfs Internet advertising with figures showing the TV ad spend will reach $63.6 billion [£41.85 billion] in 2013 with Internet ads expected to generate just $36.2 billion [£23.8 billion] in comparison.