Nielsen Starts Measuring Twitter TV Ratings. There were more than 1.2 million tweets about Breaking Bad during the week of Sept. 23, whichreached nearly 9.3 million Twitter accounts, making it by far the most visible show on the social network.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Breaking Bad would dominate Twitter during the week of its series finale, but the real surprise is that networks can now tell just how well their shows performed on the social network compared to others. The numbers come from Nielsen’s new Twitter TV ratings, which officially launched on Monday and promises to quantify the number of users who post and view tweets about popular TV shows.
The ratings tool, which was first announced late last year, uses Twitter data to present the unique audience, impressions and tweets for top TV shows each week. “The Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are a powerful measurement with far reaching implications for the industry,” Steve Hasker, president of global product leadership for Nielsen, said in a statement. Hasker describes the new metrics as a more “holistic measure” for “how Twitter activity influences TV engagement.”
At the moment, though, it’s unclear how accurate a gauge the Twitter TV ratings are and whether networks will — or should — pay attention to it. In the case of Breaking Bad, the reach indicated by the Twitter ratings — 9.3 million — is fairly close to the 10.3 million viewers who reportedly tuned in for the episode, according to separate Nielsen data.
However, the viewership and social data didn’t match up quite so well for other shows. For example, an episode of The Voice rated a distant second for the week of the Breaking Bad finale with a Twitter audience of 3.8 million unique users, even though multiple episodes averaged significantly more viewers than Breaking Bad during that same week.
Still, at least some network representatives appeared optimistic about the potential for the new ratings at launch.
“We are just beginning to understand the dynamic relationship between social media and television,” Beth Rockwood, SVP of market resources and ad sales for Discovery Communications, which owns the Discovery Channel, said in a statement. “New tools, like the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, that allow us to further investigate the relationship between individual programs and social media will bring new insights and raise new questions.”
For Twitter, there may be even more at stake. The social networking company likely hopes to use the new metrics to show its value to major networks and attract more TV ad dollars as itprepares to go public.