Nielsen fleshes out Twitter TV ratings with demographic data

Nielsen is getting more detailed in the way it measures social media musings about television shows.

Nielsen launched its Twitter TV Ratings last year to show how many people talk about particular shows on social media and, more important, how many people actually see those tweets about “Catfish: The TV Show” and WWE pro wrestling.

Now Nielsen will include demographics in its Twitter ratings, similar to how it tracks age and gender categories for actual viewership, the company said late Sunday. The measurement firm hopes the new feature will give networks and their advertisers a better idea of whom they can reach through social media.

Here’s how Deirdre Bannon, vice president of product for Nielsen Social, put it in a statement: “Clients can build campaigns and engagement strategies that consider the audience reached by social TV activity and how that may complement or build on target audiences reached through traditional TV.”

In other words, better data could lead to more effective advertising.


Nielsen has released some of the findings of an initial analysis of about 270 TV show episodes to illustrate how its measurements work.

For example, it will surprise few people that most of those tweeting about the 2014 NFL Draft on the NFL Network earlier this month were men -- nearly 80%, to be exact. But those tweets reached an audience that was about half female, according to Nielsen’s data.

In contrast, over 70% of those tweeting about NBC’s singing contest “The Voice” were female, but their tweets reached an audience that was 43% male.

According to the company, that means the networks and their advertisers can extend their reach to an audience that’s broader than their usual viewership.

The broadening-out trend applies to age too. While only 42% of people tweeting about “The Voice” were under 25 years old, the under-25 crowd accounted for 63% of those reached. Similarly, tweets about a show followed mainly by young girls, such as “Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta,” were seen by an audience that was wider than that core demographic.

Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings breaks down into age groups including 13-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-54, 55+ and, of course, the ever-important 18-49. That means that Twitter ratings will now look a lot more like traditional TV Nielsens.

That’s just one more thing for viewers to consider as they broadcast their epiphanies about the “American Idol” finale this week.