What Is the Twitter/Nielsen Partnership and What Does It Mean for TV Ratings?

Though they may have heard about it in the news, TV ratings watchers are probably asking: what is the Twitter/Nielsen partnership? Will the insertion of social media data into Nielsen ratings affect which shows are considered successful? Will it influence the advertising dollars earned by each TV show?

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Twitter and Nielsen Partnered in Late 2012

It’s been about a year since Twitter announced they were pairing up with Nielsen to enhance the latter’s television ratings data. This agreement created the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” with a goal to provide a realistic social media metric to track the popularity of TV shows. This new rating serves to complement the existing Nielsen ratings that have been in use in the television industry for decades.

While the partnership between Twitter and Nielsen was announced in December of 2012, the new ratings weren’t rolled out for public consumption until early October of 2013. The rating shows the number of tweets about existing TV shows as well as the number of Twitter followers those tweets reach. It is assumed that advertisers and TV executives are more interested in the latter number.

Do Social Media TV Ratings Really Matter?

“We feel this is going to be a credibility-building moment for the industry,” said Andrew Somosi, the chief of SocialGuide, a data analytics company acquired by Nielsen primarily for the purposes of introducing social media metrics to its television ratings data. But do Twitter mentions actually translate to eyes in front of a TV screen? Facebook is also providing similar information to television networks without the Nielsen branding.

Some pundits are skeptical about this new Twitter TV rating, commenting that a main reason for the partnership is to make money and drum up support for the Twitter stock IPO. Ultimately the answer to the “what is the Twitter/Nielsen partnership” question will have to be answered over time if the new data actually becomes as popular and useful as the standard Nielsen TV ratings.