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New Study Confirms Correlation Between Twitter and TV Ratings

Findings Indicate that Correlation Strengthens Over the Course of a Show’s Season

NEW YORK, March 20, 2013 – A new study by Nielsen and SocialGuide confirms the relationship between Twitter and TV ratings. In addition to analyzing Tweets about live TV, the study compared Twitter against a number of key variables in order to gauge the strength of the relationship of Twitter with ratings.  In evaluating the Fall 2012 premiere and midseason program ratings of over 140 broadcast and cable programs, Twitter proved to be one of three variables – – including prior year rating and advertising spend – –  to demonstrate a statistically significant relationship to TV ratings. 

“We expected to see a correlation between Twitter and TV ratings, but this study quantifies the strength of that relationship,” said Andrew Somosi, CEO of SocialGuide. “We see three key factors. While prior year rating accounts for the lion’s share of the variability in TV ratings, Twitter’s presence as a top three influencer tells us that Tweeting about live TV is likely a significant indicator of program engagement.”

According to the study, for premiere episodes, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 18-34 year olds. Additionally, a 14.0% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds, reflecting a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences.

Further, the study found that Twitter’s correlation to TV ratings strengthens for midseason episodes for both age groups. An increase in Twitter volume of 4.2% and 8.4% is associated with a 1% increase in ratings for 18-34 year olds and 35-49 year olds, respectively. Moreover, by midseason Twitter was responsible for more of the variance in ratings for 18-34 year olds than advertising spend. 

A 2012 internal Nielsen study on the 2011 TV season suggested that the alignment of Twitter with TV ratings grew throughout the season, culminating in the strongest relationship during the show’s finale. Additional research from Nielsen and SocialGuide will be conducted at the end of the 2012-2013 TV season to compare this study’s findings on premiere and midseason episodes to finale episodes of the same programs.

“The TV industry is dynamic and it was important for us to analyze multiple variables to truly understand Twitter’s impact on TV ratings,” said Mike Hess, Executive Vice President of Media Analytics for Nielsen.  “While our study doesn’t prove causality, the correlation we uncovered is significant and we will continue our research to deepen the industry’s understanding of this relationship.”

This research follows Nielsen’s recent announcement to create the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” for the U.S. market. The Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are the first-ever syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter.  The ratings are slated for commercial availability at the start of the Fall 2013 TV season.

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Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit


SocialGuide is the leading provider of Social TV measurement, analytics and audience engagement solutions. SocialGuide identifies, captures and analyzes conversation on Twitter in real time for every program aired across 235 of the most popular U.S. television channels, including Spanish language channels. SocialGuide uses this data to power SocialGuide Intelligence, the core analytics and engagement product, a suite of API solutions that provide intelligence and curated content to power the next generation of social applications for MSOs, connected TVs and second screen developers, and the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings. SocialGuide, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of NM Incite, LLC, a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey.

Press Contacts:

SocialGuide: Leslie Cafferty, 201-452-6780,

Nielsen: Flavie Lemarchand-Wood, 646.654.4436,