How Social Media Can Affect TV Ratings

By Rhonda Schweber in Media Strategy on February 17th, 2016

Social Media TV Content Ratings

While you’re sitting on your couch watching that new episode of The Bachelor and posting catty comments on your newsfeed, Nielsen is listening. And so is ABC. And so are all the other television networks.  

Nielsen is trying to adapt their TV measurement to the rapid changes in TV consumption. Three years ago, Nielsen entered an agreement with Twitter to capture and analyze conversations in real time. They called this Twitter TV Ratings.  Nielsen recently announced the expansion of their Twitter TV Ratings to include Facebook conversations. We all know that Facebook has always been watching what we post, but now, Facebook will deliver those program related conversations directly to Nielsen. Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings will become Social Content Ratings. These ratings will be national only and, are set to launch sometime during the first half of this year.

Nielsen said that these Social Content Ratings will measure program related conversations that include social media authorship (e.g., posts, Tweets), engagement (e.g., comments, likes, replies, Retweets, shares), reach (audience and impressions) and demographics (age and gender) as available.

Fun fact: Nielsen also has plans to integrate Instagram at a later date.  

Those conversations can be just as important to the networks as the number of people viewing live on their TV. The activity on social media can make or break a show, and Social Content Ratings is showing just how real that statement is.

Marlene King, the executive producer of Pretty Little Liar’s on ABC Family, said that the amount of tweets during an episode is usually reflected in the live ratings. King also said that when those social conversations go away, it’s a good indication that it’s probably time to “wrap it up.”

We know that TV is being consumed in much different ways than just a few years ago. Social Content Ratings is Nielsen’s attempt to address the needs of our industry to reflect the total viewing audience across all screens.


Consumers are viewing TV differently and Nielsen has been expanding its data-gathering and analysis to better capture these behaviors. In addition to evaluating the live, C-3 and C-7 ratings, TV buyers can soon also evaluate the audience engagement. This creates opportunities to optimize TV strategies to drive earned media for brands. 

For the media buyer, these ratings have the potential to assist in monetizing the value of the social buzz surrounding content where your commercial is placed. It gives more insight into viewership than just the traditional ratings. This will assist with network negotiations. If the buzz is going up or down, it gives the buyer insights into the program popularity and its possible future.

Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings provide more data for evaluating how consumers are engaging with their TV programs. We will soon see how this really affects TV ratings.

Be sure you are working with an agency that understands how consumers are currently viewing TV.

Contact BKV today.