Los Angeles — In a smart move to become part of growing social TV competition, popular micro-blogging hub Twitter, on Monday said that it has endorsed an agreement with Nielsen to create a “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” to gauge how much online buzz is being generated by television shows on Twitter instead of simply focusing on numbers of viewers for programs, including both people who comment and people who are exposed to their comments.
Under the multi-year pact, which would enable Twitter and Nielsen to deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter, slated for commercial availability starting next fall.
“As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming,” says Twitter Head of Media, Chole Sladden. “This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating.”
But the latest Nielsen Twitter TV Rating collaboration is pretty significant, which will not only provide the statistics about how many people have tweeted about a show, as some firms already do, the Nielsen rating will also quantify the readers of every comment.
Elaborating on the deal, the company chief said, “The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a momentous 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,” Steve Hasker, President, Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, said in a statement.
Continuing further, he said, “As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data.” “It captures the whole audience of that conversation, not just the specific Tweeter. It is the only metric that gives you a holistic view of the earned media component around a TV program.”
However, it is reported that the latest move comes naturally to Twitter, as the emerging social media outfit gets into the spotlight whenever a “real-time” performance takes place. Charity concerts, presidential debates, and other events are often covered “live” via updates on the micro-blogging platform. This usually happens as Twitter users often watch TV with a tablet or mobile phone in hand.
Although Twitter is the site that boasts of many TV conversations, it is not the only social platform where TV echoes. Another social media channel Facebook has been asking networks and brands to let it help extend the conversation about TV, and startups such as GetGlue and Viggle offer their own ways for viewers to check in to shows.
“Twitter has become the world’s digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time,” Sladden said in a blog post. “This effort mirrors Nielsen’s foresight into the evolving nature of the TV viewing experience,” he added.
As a matter of fact, networks and marketers have indeed been keenly scrutinizing and encouraging social-media activity around TV shows. It has remained unclear in many instances how much benefit social chatter ultimately provides for ratings or advertisers, but something closer to an industry-standard gauge could be one step in better understanding that equation.
In addition, this novel form of metric could steer advertising dollars to television shows that win enthusiastic but narrow audiences, keeping programs on air even when studio executives find overall viewership figures disappointing.
But more importantly, Twitter has been getting more resolute about TV, signaled in part by the hiring of industry veteran Fred Graver this summer as head of TV. In fact, this launch follows Nielsen and NM Incite’s recent acquisition of SocialGuide, a service that accumulates Twitter TV activity for all US programming across 234 TV channels in English and Spanish.
“Ultimately, we have one goal for this new metric: to make watching TV with Twitter even better for you, the TV fan,” says Sladden.