Does Twitter have any influence over TV?

written by: Emma Wells

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We already know that lots of people are chatting about TV on Twitter – an activity that is becoming increasingly popular.

At this point, some people are even starting to say that Twitter is the saviour of linear TV.

But does Twitter really encourage people to watch more live TV?  Can Twitter really influence TV ratings?

It turns out that the answer to these questions really depends who you ask.

It seems that Twitter is starting to help increase viewership over the past year — the 2010 Grammy Awards saw a 35% increase over the 2009 event, perhaps in part due to social integration.

According to Twitter’s Chloe Sladden:

”What we’re seeing now is that Twitter is, in fact, about flocking audiences back to a shared experience, and that usually means a live one…If you’re not watching live — and reading the comments from friends, your favourite celebrities, and even total strangers via Twitter — you’re missing half the show.”

And according to Twitter, tweets about a show can actually influence TV ratings. One particularly strong example comes from Oxygen Network’s show The Bad Girls Club. The East Coast premiere which had a huge amount of live social integration experienced a 97% ratings jump. The West Coast which had no social element saw just a 7% viewing increase that week.

But we need to keep in mind who is pushing this message- of course it’s in Twitter’s self-interest to push this viewpoint.

To find out if Twitter’s claims were true, TV Genius used its new Twitter Analytics tool which ranks the top shows on Twitter each night.

And what we found demonstrates that Twitter’s claims about driving TV ratings are blown out of proportion – at least here in the UK.

If Twitter is truly driving live TV viewing, the shows with the highest audience levels should have the highest tweeting-rates. And likewise, if a show has a huge Twitter response one week, we would expect more viewers to tune in for the next episode.

However, our results show a very different picture.

For the same week that EastEnders, The Only Way is Essex, and Masterchef topped the Twitter-chatter charts, only 2 of these shows made it into BARB’s most viewed TV shows:

Top Tweeted Shows: March 28- April 3 2011

Tweet Rank

BARB Rank

EastEnders

1

3

The Only Way is Essex

2

142

Masterchef

3

27

Waterloo Road

4

28

Coronation Street

5

1

Hollyoaks

6

131

Newsnight

7

n/a

Benidorm

8

8

Family Guy

9

169

University Challenge

10

65

Top Tweeted Shows: May 9-15 Tweet Volume Rank

BARB Rank

EastEnders

1

1

The Only Way is Essex

2

n/a

Doctor Who

3

12

Britain's Got Talent

4

8

Formula 1

5

n/a

Family guy

6

133

Newsnight

7

n/a

Masterchef

8

n/a

Coronation Street

9

3

Match of the Day

10

53

 However, just because Twitter doesn’t directly drive TV ratings, doesn’t mean the social platform should be ignored.

There is no doubt that Twitter is complementing the TV viewing experience and research has shown that new media is increasingly having a direct effect on content discovery, as people tune into what their friends and social graph are recommending.

While TV viewing figures tell us a lot about which shows are the most popular, they do not give any indication about people’s opinions and levels of engagement. Is the TV playing alone while everyone is in the other room? If they are tweeting about a show, we know they are engaged and it’s relevant to them - not just running in the background.

Chatter on Twitter can provide powerful information for TV executives, operators, and producers about the engagement level of each episode.

When used in the right way, TV operators can leverage Twitter to help viewers discover the hottest shows on Twitter, get viewers involved, and serve social recommendations.

And as the social graph overlaps more and more with the world of TV, this is just the beginning.

mma blogs for TV Genius over at the TV Trends Blog. TV Genius is a software company that has specialised in TV content discovery, recommendations, search, and interactive TV guides since 2005.

 

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