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Nielsen will use Twitter to gauge TV programming popularity

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Twitter and TV ratings have gone hand in hand to gauge a TV show’s popularity, and Nielsen has taken note of this. The ratings and market research firm announced today its first ever social TV ratings system using the conversations taking place around Twitter.

In a multi-year deal that begins in the fall 2013 TV season, Twitter will start providing Nielsen with social metrics from its users. It’s a brand new and, in a socially connected age, an important step for Nielsen to better gauge the popularity of television shows. With TV shows evolving with the way they engage users outside of the shows, this type of data could provide Nielsen and marketers a better look at the conversations around the shows better than set top boxes. Nielsen uses these boxes, which are distributed to a fraction of all TV viewers, to gauge the popularity and metrics from a TV show for the TV viewing population as a whole. We’ve seen elements of this type of measurement before in third party developers like Topsy, which used Twitter data to gauge the popularity of Presidential nominees back in August.

“The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a significant step forward for the industry, particularly as programmers develop increasingly captivating live TV and new second-screen experiences, and advertisers create integrated ad campaigns that combine paid and earned media,” President Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, Steve Hasker said in a statement. “As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data.”

The data recorded by Nielsen from Twitter won’t replace Nielsen’s current system in place to track the popularity of TV shows. The data, culled from Twitter 140 million active users and 1 billion tweets every other day, will compliment Nielsen’s current TV ratings.

The ratings will also serve the purpose of measuring the hard to track viewerships that are watching these shows on their connected devices like a tablet or smartphone. And at the same time, television networks are seeking better ways to connect with their audiences online during and after the programming. The data should help with analyzing their social media engagement efforts.

“The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has generated a substantial ‘connected’ TV audience that is simultaneously watching television and accessing the Internet through these devices. This, in turn, will continue to create the opportunity for content providers like CBS to offer engaging interactive features for our viewers. As this form of viewer engagement evolves into a mainstream activity, it presents ways for CBS to enhance the viewing experience for our viewers and our advertisers,” CBS Chief Research Officer, David F. Poltrack said in a statement.