Baer Facts, Social Media Research, The Baer Facts

New Research Shows Twitter Boosts TV Ratings (sometimes)


In another bandwidth-deficient edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about new research from Nielsen that shows tweets causing  actual increases in television ratings.

Is Social TV Overrated?

Twitter causes TV viewershipI’ve been a skeptic of the relationship between Twitter chatter and TV ratings for a long time. To me, the people tweeting about a show are already watching the show, so the Twitter-fueled “back channel” surrounding the show may result in additional loyalty and/or visits to the show’s website/Facebook page/SnapChat account  etc., but won’t generate net new viewers.

But for the first time, there’s evidence that proves me wrong (sometimes). Comprehensive new research from Nielsen found that in 29% of the cases, Twitter chatter actually caused increased viewership. Not just a correlation, a causation.

Now, before you run out and find a way to create a VERY special episode of “Honey Jebediah, the Amish mafia duck call impresario” that will get a TON of tweets, realize that it’s only 29%. For 71% of all television programs, more tweets didn’t equal more eyeballs on the TV show. However (and perhaps not surprisingly), the category of television where tweets are most likely to increase viewership (44% of the time) is for competitive reality programs like The Voice, Top Chef, Project Runway, and the like.

Nielsen found that this effect works both ways. Tweets cause viewership 29% of the time, and viewership causes Twitter chatter nearly half the time (48%). I suspect the latter figure would be much higher, but there are still many popular television programs whose viewers are far less likely to be Twitter users, demographically.

Is Your Mind Changed?

This seems like very good news for Twitter’s advertising department, especially as they lurch onward toward an IPO. Does this data from Nielsen change how you think about social TV? It certainly got my attention.



Facebook Comments


  1. says

    And this is why I found myself watching the VMAs for the first time in years the other night. In the (recent) past I could rely on video clips the next days, but to be part of the conversation on such an essential topic as Miley Cyrus? Priceless. Also, I thought Daft Punk would be playing …

  2. says

    As someone who is on Twitter way more than in front of a TV, I can say that I have tuned into a specific show in the past after seeing info in my stream. Although, most of the time I find the Twitter conversation about the show is much more entertaining than the show itself.

    • Drew Bender says

      The conversation on Twitter can be quite entertaining especially for those shows that are suspenseful and leave interesting cliff hangers. Then everyone has a theory and can lead to good conversation.

  3. says

    It is unbelievable how many people flock to Facebook & Twitter during TV shows to give us a play by play or even voice their opinions. I have changed the channel many times to see what all the chatter is about.

  4. Graciousstore says

    People tune in to programs from the tweets they receive if they only if it is something they are interested in, otherwise people do not tune in simply because they received a tweet on a program they have no interest in

  5. says

    I can definitely see how reality competition shows would cause increased viewership! I can’t say I’ve done this, but I have tuned in to see the Twitter chatter while watching television. The humorous tweets add a lot of value to the show!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *