Tweets boost broadcast ratings for 29% of primetime TV study shows

The number of tweets about a TV show has a direct relation to the ratings it receives, new research by consumer insights firm Nielsen has proven for the first time.

By looking at minute-to-minute live TV ratings for 221 episodes of broadcasted US primetime TV, along with related activity on Twitter, the study found that the volume of tweets about the show had a significant effect on its ratings 29 per cent of the time.

Conversely, TV ratings had a meaningful impact on the corresponding tweets among 48 per cent of the sampled episodes.

"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."

Twitter had the biggest impact on competitive reality TV, for which the social network boosted the ratings of nearly half of all episodes.

Comedy shows were affected by tweets 37 per cent of the time and sports saw a Twitter corresponding hike in ratings 28 per cent of the time.

The least influenced genre was drama, for which tweets during episodes had an effect on ratings just 18 per cent of the time.