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Tweet This: Social Buzz Maps to Ratings

3/24/2013 8:00 PM Eastern

TV shows with a Twitter-happy fan base definitely have higher ratings, but it still isn’t clear that heavy tweet traffic actually leads to a bigger audience, according to a new Nielsen study.

Nielsen, along with SocialGuide, evaluated fall 2012 premiere and midseason program ratings across more than 140 broadcast and cable programs. The finding: Twitter volume on the day of broadcast was one of only three variables analyzed — along with prior-year ratings and advertising spend — that affected TV ratings in a statistically significant way.

As you might expect, there’s a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences, according to the latest Nielsen/SocialGuide study.

For example, for premiere episodes, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume — measured starting three hours before live air and three hours afterward — corresponded with a 1% increase in TV program ratings among 18-34 year olds, the study found. (In other words, for the 18-34 demo, shows had an average of 8.5% more tweets for every percentage increase in ratings.) The 35-to-49 demo requires a little more conversation, with a 14% increase in Twitter volume associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for premiere episodes.

Nielsen is planning to create a “Twitter TV Rating” for the U.S., in partnership with Twitter, to debut at the start of the fall 2013 TV season.

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