Nielsen and Twitter to Join Forces

For decades, the Nielsen Rating has measured audience size for television programming. Since 2006, Twitter allowed users to provide real-time comments, or tweets, on just about anything they wish. Twitter users often use Twitter to discuss television shows as they are being aired. Because of this, Nielsen and Twitter and joining their powerful forces to create the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating.

Starting in the fall of 2013, the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will chart the conversations that take place on Twitter about television shows. It will measure the total audience for each show’s social activity. According to a representative at Nielsen, this new rating system will provide the “precise size of the audience and effect of social TV to TV programming.”

Nielsen, is a global company that measures television and other media forms such as online, mobile and trade shows. They have a strong presence in about 100 countries and have headquarters in New York and the Netherlands.

Twitter is a platform in which people from around the world can post and share ideas, information and photos – at 140 characters or less. Twitter can be accessed via desktop, mobile and web applications, making it truly portable and accessible 24/7.


Steve Hasker, President, Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen stated that, “The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a significant step forward for the industry, particularly as programmers develop increasingly captivating live TV and new second-screen experiences, and advertisers create integrated ad campaigns that combine paid and earned media. As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data.”

Comments from Twitter only further supports what Hasker conveys. Twitter’s Vice President of Media, Chloe Sladden, said, “Our users love the shared experience of watching television while engaging with other viewers and show talent. Twitter has become the world’s digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time. Nielsen is who the networks rely on to give better content to viewers and clearer results to marketers. This effort reflects Nielsen’s foresight into the evolving nature of the TV viewing experience, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Twitter ecosystem partners on this metric to help broadcasters and advertisers create truly social TV experiences.”

Since the induction of Twitter, TV viewers have been able to freely discuss and comment on programs and events as they are watched. This creates a new dynamic between TV programming and audiences. With the conversational tone to most tweets, viewers are allowed to freely discuss their feeling and opinions on programs. This data can be gathered and can help in standardizing the way online conversations that are centered on television is measured.

The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will not replace the original Nielsen Rating. Instead, it is meant to complement the existing rating system, and give networks a way to measure real-time comments from their audience’s social activity. The Nielsen Rating will continue to measure the screen viewership, while the new Twitter TV Rating will focus on the “second screen” or the reach of the programs have on Twitter by studying the conversations on the social network.

The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will build upon NM Incite’s SocialGuide, which is a real-time social TV capture service. The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is meant to enhance the metrics that is provided by SocialGuide’s analytical platform. It will be a measurement that is the first of its kind, and will measure the total audience for TV’s social activity, taking into account both those who are participating in the conversations about the programs, and also those who are exposed to the conversations and activity.


Television networks are already on board with the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating. David F. Poltrack, Chief Research Officer of CBS Corporation stated, “The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has generated a substantial ‘connected’ TV audience that is simultaneously watching television and accessing the Internet through these devices. This, in turn, will continue to create the opportunity for content providers like CBS to offer engaging interactive features for our viewers. As this form of viewer engagement evolves into a mainstream activity, it presents ways for CBS to enhance the viewing experience for our viewers and our advertisers. We are already engaged with Nielsen and Twitter in a program of research and experimentation in this exciting new area. We are pleased to see Nielsen and Twitter join together to provide a comprehensive measurement system that will allow us to employ these social networking tools to their full advantage.”

Fox Networks Group is also supporting the new rating system. Chairman and CEO Peter Rice said that, “Twitter is a powerful messenger and a lot of fun for fans of our shows, providing them with the opportunity to engage, connect and voice their opinions directly to each other and us. Combining the instant feedback of Twitter with Nielsen ratings will benefit us, program producers, and our advertising partners.”

With the longevity of Nielsen, coupled with the popularity of Twitter, the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating has the potential to be a very powerful partnership. With the use of hashtags that allow viewers to comment on programs as they are aired, Nielsen will be able to better understand how viewers are responding to the shows, and use this information to more accurately rate television shows.


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