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Nielsen and Twitter partner to measure social TV audience

President Obama proclaimed his victory on Twitter and Facebook just as TV networks were breaking the news.
(By Lionel Bonaventure / AFP/Getty Images)

Nielsen and Twitter have struck a multi-year partnership to measure the reach of online conversations about television shows.

The new Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will do more than provide information about how many people have Tweeted about a particular show, a service that is already available from other measurement firms. It also seeks to quantify the number of people who’ve read each comment.

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“It captures the whole audience of that conversation, not just the specific Tweeter,” said Steve Hasker, president of global media products at Nielsen. “It’s the only metric that gives you a holistic view of the earned media component around a TV program.”

Social media platforms such as Twitter have emerged as the virtual water cooler, where people gather to discuss their favorite television shows (and other topics). Twitter has more than 140 million active users who send a billion Tweets every two and a half days.

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An increasing number of TV viewers are watching shows with their tablet or smartphone in hand, providing real-time feedback. Nielsen and NM Incite’s recent Social Media Report found that some 44% of U.S. tablet owners and 38% of U.S. smartphone owners engage with social networking sites or apps daily while watching TV.  

“Twitter is a powerful messenger and a lot of fun for fans of our shows, providing them with the opportunity to engage, connect and voice their opinions directly to each other and us,” Fox Networks Group Chairman Peter Rice said in a statement. “Combining the instant feedback of Twitter with Nielsen ratings will benefit us, program producers and our advertising partners.”

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The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is expected to be available with the start of the fall 2013 television season. It complements Nielsen’s existing TV rating, giving the networks and advertisers real-time metrics required to understand TV audience social activity.

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