I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that a new study by Nielsen Online and SocialGuide has confirmed that popular TV shows get more chatter on twitter. It’s called Social TV and I blogged about this back in July 2011. Apparently twitter activity is now one of the top 3 variables that indicate how many people like watching a particular TV show. The other two variables that influence TV ratings are last year’s viewership (wow, didn’t see that one coming) and advertising spend. What I find interesting is that the study indicates that TV advertising dollars influence TV ratings, I would have thought that the language should be the other way around. That TV show popularity influences advertising spend – because obviously advertisers want to be in front of the largest audiences. A reverse position but an important distinction I would have thought.


an 8% increase in twitter activity during TV viewing can indicate a 1% increase in TV ratingsYou can click through to read the actual report from Neilsen and SocialGuide, there is a whole bunch of statistics about how the increase % of tweets correlates with a % increase in viewership but we’re talking percentage rises of an insignificant 1%. Again, I’m surprised this has made news worth reporting? I guess there will be some tightly contested time slots where a 1% margin is important but surely we can say that the TV shows in questions are almost equally popular?

Another noteworthy news revelation (it seems) was that, wait for it, social networks are more popular amongst young people. Geez, I’ve been wondering about that.

Some statistics that did interest me are:

  • 32 million unique people in the U.S. Tweeted about TV in 2012
  • 80% of U.S. tablet and smartphone owners who watch TV use their device while watching at least several times a month
  • 40% of U.S. tablet and smartphone users visit a social network while watching TV
  • There has been an 8-10% decrease in US and UK audience social media/ TV engagement between 2010 to 2012, while the global average for 2012 social media engagement while watching TV sits at 43%


I think we can all agree that when anything is interesting or popular, there is going to be chatter about it on social networks, commentary in the media, ridicule on the airways and talk around the water cooler. What’s interesting to me, is the statistics around how social media is tightly aligned to tablet and smartphone usage. Which I’ve commented on back in September, if you fancy reading a little longer.