Nielsen’s New Measurements

By Michael Norwood, chapter member

Nielsen ratings has discovered a new way to accurately monitor and follow viewership in an age where televisions have been on decline and computer ownership continues to rise.

Nielsen has said that they have created a new system that will incorporate the use of social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook to monitor which television shows are generating buzz online. Eric Deggans of Byline went on the air stating that, “Sports programming, for instance, was 3 percent of TV programming last year, but Casey says it was 50 percent of the conversation about TV shows on Twitter.”

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As younger audiences have become more engaged in Twitter and Facebook, television programs have begun to incorporate new interactive programs or applications to engage these viewers via smartphone, tablet and computers during their programs. I guess as the old saying goes, ‘Any publicity is good publicity.’

By engaging their viewers online and encouraging the audience to tweet or post about their shows, it creates buzz, which can essentially be compared to free advertisement for a television show or program.

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The new system implication will be called the “Social Content Ratings,” which will incorporate Twitter and Facebook buzz when Nielsen rates viewership. This will be a way for the company to more accurately monitor just how far-reaching television programs are going in the digital age of social media. If these tools can prove successful, then this new rating system can change the way public relation firms, and television shows, conduct business.

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One of the best examples of this is the Walking Dead’s follow-up talk show, the Talking Dead, which uses real-time surveys, polls and games during their one hour-long show to air viewer feedback or opinions during the time slot. It has been very efficient and shockingly useful in engaging large audiences and, more importantly, extending their viewership ratings.

Streaming companies like Netflix and Hulu are not included, which means that Nielsen will still have a ways to go before advertisers and public relations companies will know just how effective social media can be for television viewership.

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