Study: Correlation Between Tweets And TV Ratings

twitter-mobile-phones-featuredA huge percentage of TV watchers (as much as 80 percent) are now on a “second screen” during a program, though they may not necessarily be engaged in a “social conversation” about the show they are watching. They may be shopping, writing emails or reading news, instead.

However, a new study from SocialGuide (and Nielsen) found that Twitter activity and conversations were positively correlated with TV ratings. Twitter was one of three “statistically significant variables” associated with positive TV ratings. The other two were past ratings and TV advertising (on behalf of the show).

Nielsen (and SocialGuide) found that increases in Twitter activity were related to increases in TV ratings, though they varied by age group:

Specifically, the study found that for 18-34 year olds, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume corresponds to a 1% increase in TV ratings for premiere episodes, and a 4.2% increase in Twitter volume corresponds with a 1% increase in ratings for midseason episodes. Additionally, a 14.0% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds, reflecting a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences.

Nielsen Twitter and TV

One must now invoke the cautionary high-school science adage, “Correlation does not equal causation.” Popular shows are more likely to be talked about on social media. However, there may be a virtuous cycle where popular shows generate tweets, which in turn reinforce their popularity.

Awareness of a relationship between Twitter activity and TV ratings should send more networks and show producers to Twitter to promote their programs and buy Promoted Tweets.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Statistics: Social Media | Top News | Twitter | Twitter: Advertising | Twitter: Business Issues | Twitter: Mobile

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://www.socialbakers.com/ Michal Smetana

    This is a really interesting correlation. Moreover, we can really see the impact when the TV producers are themselves encouraging the use of a ‘second screen’ and present – during a particular show – a hashtag relevant to this show and they are trying to drive the engagement of their fans and audience during (and after) the show. It can be really effective, because it is more interactive than anything else, because you are engaging with something that is happening right now, this very second and a lot of other people with you. Thanks for sharing this with us, Greg.

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