Twitter, Facebook, and the Correlation with Nielsen Ratings
I spoke at the TVOT (TV of Tomorrow) conference this week and one of the discussion items on my panel was the evolution of content. My prediction is that social engagement (defined as: Viewers engaging around TV shows via Twitter, Facebook, or second-screen apps) is poised to replace content as king of the TV space. By “content” I mean TV content created and produced by professional studios. Until now, such content has been king because it drives Nielsen ratings and Nielsen ratings are what broadcasters live or die by.
But “The Times They Are A’ Changing” as Bob Dylan would say. The impact of Twitter or Facebook updates around a TV show are starting to display a strong correlation with Nielsen ratings. In fact, at the recent Social TV Summit in New York, Chloe Sladden, Twitter’s head of Media Partnerships, said, “When you look at the volume of same-day Tweets about a show, it’s a significant factor in explaining that show’s ratings.” She added that one of the goals for 2012 is to make Twitter engagement a peer to Nielsen ratings.
There is no doubt that social engagement around TV shows will continue to grow, in my view, exponentially. The technologies needed to facilitate and measure such engagement are here, provided by the ever-evolving Twitter and Facebook platforms, the second-screen solutions like Miso (and tens of others), and new analytics companies such as Bluefin Labs.
What’s more contentious at this stage is the impact that this growing social engagement will have on content. My projection (illustrated in the graphic below) is that viewers’ engagement around TV shows will become so massive that it will start undermining the current ways of creating shows and become the main driver for new TV content.
In the Future, Social Engagement will Drive TV Content rather than
TV Content Driving Social Interactions
Content will increasingly be created with social interaction in mind, so in the future; social engagement will drive TV content rather than TV content driving social interactions. The audience will be able to change the storyline, or even create the storyline, by engaging around show content in real-time. We already have audiences voting online for some game shows, and affecting the outcome of the show.
One can imagine, in the near future, viewers having the “power of life and death” over characters in future episodes of “Revenge” by voting via Twitter on which character should die next.
“Social engagement” becoming the new “King” doesn’t mean that “content is dead” – quite the contrary. My view is that this will actually open up new opportunities for “creatives” to think more creatively about new types of content: content that could be generated by social interactions. It is interesting to see from Twitter data how buzz about a particular show actually begins before the show starts airing and continues after it’s off the air. This points to future opportunities for broadcasters to:
• Develop more pre- and post- show content for the most socially-engaged shows
• Keep their viewers engaged longer
• Sell more advertising
• Bring in more revenue.
More on that in a future post.