Could Twitter Trends Predict Nielsen Numbers?

Twitter hash tags are everywhere these days.  You’ve probably noticed suggested hash tags in the corners of just about every broadcast show, encouraging fans to discuss the show on the popular social networking outlet.

But could trending topics and Twitter mentions translate into ratings success?

A new study Nielsen and SocialGuide says that Twitter could give networks and advertisers a prediction of what ratings will look like for certain shows and events. It can also give networks an idea of whether or not audiences are responding well to a show or if it is gaining traction.

“We expected to see a correlation between Twitter and TV ratings, but this study quantifies the strength of that relationship,” says Andrew Somosi, CEO of SocialGuide, which is co-owned by Nielsen and McKinsey and monitors the links between social media and TV.

With 32 million people Tweeting about television shows in the last year, there is potential to see how a show it doing via Twitter.

The report indicates that Nielsen and SocialGuide saw a pattern for shows that lasted at least one season.

Ratings for the premiere episode vs the previous season tended to be 1% higher among 18- to 34-year-olds when their tweets about the show were up 8.5%. Similarly, premiere ratings for 35- to 49-year-olds rose 1% when their tweets were +14%.

The pattern held for midseason shows: This time ratings among the younger group rose 1% when their tweets increased 4.2% while the older group showed a bump when their messages were +8.4%.

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