Twitter Could Increase TV Premiere Audience Sizes

For millions of media companies, the fall TV season is critical and can be stressful. Networks and agencies anxiously wait to see if audiences love or hate new programs. While agencies are watching to see what adjustments they need to make, viewers truly hold the cards, offering plenty of critique along the way.  So, what role does Twitter activity around new shows play in it all?

Social TV is no longer a new phenomenon as millions of people use Twitter to share their opinions about favorite TV shows. The majority of the conversations happen during live broadcasts, but as networks look to build and boost audience engagement, they can identify how much of the discussion happens outside of the live airing window.

Now that the 2014 fall TV season has concluded, Nielsen evaluated how Twitter TV activity could be used to anticipate the sizes of the audiences that watched the premiere episodes of those programs. Nielsen analyzed 42 broadcast and cable series premieres, from late August through early November, looking for a correlation between how many times viewers 18-34 saw TV promotions for a specific program and the size of that program’s audience for the premiere episode. They expected highly promoted programs to garner larger audiences, and that is in fact what they saw.

While the findings do not mean that Twitter TV activity causes larger audience sizes, the ratings group found that brands could have used Twitter promotions to boost awareness, and in turn, boost audience.

"This is notable because if Twitter TV activity could be used alongside other data sources to help determine TV audiences, then agencies could fine-tune their buys before the premieres," Nielsen said in a recent blog post. "Networks could identify potential winners and challenges earlier to maximize ad sales and course-correct marketing activities. And, to the extent that social media leads people to become aware of new shows, networks could leverage Twitter TV activity to better reach their intended audiences."

Since social TV happens around the clock, networks and agencies now have the opportunity to explore how and why audiences engage on Twitter. The findings from this recent study highlight the opportunity for networks to boost audience engagement in between episodes through repeat program airings, stars and promotions.

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc.

Amanda Ciccatelli

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