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TV and Twitter, sharing a ratings relationship?

Originally posted by MediaPost on March 20, 2013.

TV-related social media activity does have a relationship to TV ratings. But does it cause TV ratings to climb? Nielsen says it has no proof — yet.

In looking at an recent study Nielsen compiled with SocialGuide, its social TV measurement unit, it says there is a “statistically significant relationship” between Twitter volume and TV ratings.

For example, in evaluating the fall 2012 premiere TV program ratings of over 140 broadcast and cable programs in the US, an 8.5% increase in Twitter activity was associated with a 1% rise in TV program ratings among 18- to-34-year-old viewers.

A higher volume of Twitter activity was needed for older viewers to be associated with the same TV rating movement. Nielsen says a 14% increase in Twitter volume was associated with a 1% rise in in TV program ratings for 35- to-49-year-olds.

Looking at the regular fall 2012 season episodes, the Twitter association is stronger in connection to TV program ratings. A 4.2% rise in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% rise in ratings among 18- to-34-year-olds. There was an 8.4% rise in this social media Twitter activity is connected with a 1% climb in ratings among 35- to-49-year-olds.

Mike Hess, executive vice president of media analytics for Nielsen, stated: “While our study doesn’t prove causality, the correlation we uncovered is significant, and we will continue our research to deepen the industry’s understanding of this relationship.”

Nielsen says its analysis included a list of other variables that could impact ratings, such as ad spend, prior-year rating, promotional spend, and differences in age and gender.

While most of these factors have a logical relationship with TV ratings, its analysis looked at “statistically significant alignment” with TV ratings. Three factors showed this: prior-year ratings, ad spend and Twitter volume.

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