Study: Social Buzz Definitely Corresponds To TV Ratings

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Chatter on social media about a TV show clearly maps to its ratings, with an increase in social buzz of 9% in the weeks prior to a show's premiere corresponding to a 1% increase in ratings among viewers 18-34, according to a new study by Nielsen and NM Incite.

The analysis was conducted by Nielsen and NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company. The study found a statistically significant relationship throughout a TV show's season among all age groups, with the strongest correlation among younger demos (people ages 12-17 and 18-34), and a slightly stronger overall correlation for women compared to men.

As the middle of a season approaches -- leading up to a show's finale -- the correlation between buzz and ratings is slightly weaker but still significant, with a 14% increase in buzz volume needed for the same 1% ratings increase, Nielsen and NM Incite found.

"As television becomes more digital -- in the form of sharable video clips or articles about a show's premiere, for example -- social media will continue to play an increasingly important role in how consumers discover and engage with various forms of content, including TV," Radha Subramanyam, Nielsen's senior vice president of media analytics, wrote in a blog post Thursday.

The Nielsen-NM Incite study analyzed the effect of more than 150 million social-media interactions on more than 250 broadcast and cable shows, applying some 70 different statistical models to seek out an association between social activity and television consumption, according to Subramanyam.

Men over 50 showed the weakest buzz-to-ratings connection leading up to a show's premiere through the middle of the season, but the correlation for this group actually increased by the finale as all age groups were actively discussing a TV show via social media, Nielsen and NM Incite found.

At the genre level, 18-34 females showed significant buzz-to-ratings relationships for reality programs (competition and non-competition), comedies and dramas, while men of the same age saw strong correlations for competition realities and dramas, according to the study.