When it comes to the business of TV ratings, there is one common criticism that we hear time and time again: that these Nielsen figures are in no way an accurate measure of how many people are genuinely watching a show. The only apply to people who are actually recording what they watch on Nielsen boxes, and they do not take into account folks watching online or On-Demand. (DVR ratings are added after the fact.) Really, the sole measure to this point that is a true benchmark for a show’s success is how many viewers it manages to pull in between the ages of 18 to 49.
So is that about to change? Well, Nielsen is at least making a step in the right direction. The Nielsen Company announced Monday that beginning in 2013, they will create a new Twitter TV Rating that helps to measure the amount of people who are talking about shows (which could consequently be useful for advertising purposes online, due to a possibly higher rate of conversation) on social media at the time of its airing. In a press release, here is what Steve Hasker, President of Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, had to say:
“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”
For shows like “Community” (pictured), “Fringe,” or “Pretty Little Liars” that all have relatively small viewer totals, this could be a useful figure to help show that the diehard nature of these fans is something that advertisers can help cling to when it comes to devising campaigns. But could this rating actually keep a show from cancellation? That we are still skeptical about. Twitter is not the end-all, be-all of television; just look at “The X Factor” for examples of that, as contestants who trend are often still the ones sent home since the internet often does not take older viewers (who are not so tech-savvy) into account. Though 18-49 figures of people who are actually watching the show live are still going to be paramount.
What do you think about Nielsen looking at Twitter for a bigger way of reading into shows’ audiences? Be sure to share your thoughts below, and you can read more about “Community” season 4 over at the link here.