Time to measure TV tweets

Social media plays a huge part in TV watching. (If you don’t have the ability to multi-task it can be infuriating and results in you having to watch a show a second time to see what you missed while typing on your phone. Or maybe that’s just me.)

And no longer can TV ratings be measured simply by counting the number of people tuning in. Why? Because thanks to things like DVRs and Netflix and other streaming channels, it has become increasingly difficult to tell how many people are actually watching a show at any given time – more importantly, during its timeslot when TV networks originally air it.

That has forced a change in the measurement department.

Now, the company that does the ratings, the Nielsen Company, has incorporated the social media element. It is measuring how many people are reading Twitter messages about certain shows the night they air.

This might give them a better idea about the live ratings of a show since people are tweeting as they watch. It is same-day ratings which is important because with East Coast and West Coast airings, it can give a better idea the exact time – meaning the hour it is airing – about how a show is trending… or if it is even trending at all.

The show Breaking Bad has claimed a new title. It has the distinction of most second-screen activity on Twitter than any other TV series. Earlier this month, Nielsen reported that Breaking Bad had an average of 6 million people seeing tweets for each episode. There was a spike to 9.1 million during the finale last September.

Is this likely to affect the actual ratings numbers of a show? Not exactly. But it will perhaps now give TV networks more clout when trying to land advertising dollars since they are able to say that X-number of tweets are sent about a certain show during its time slot.

Again, does that mean advertisers will flock to the network’s airwaves just because people are buzzing about a show in cyberspace given there is no definitive data showing a tweeter is actually watching the show? That is yet to be seen.

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