How TV Ratings Are Now Driven By Social Chatter

Social Media has grown to become a great companion for Television, as viewers see televised shows or events and then share their reactions online with their networks. But how do their networks influence what they watch? Does social chatter and buzz help affect the amount of viewers a show has, and if so, just how large is that influence? NM Incite and Nielsen decided to find out in a recent groundbreaking study, and the results are very telling as to how the amount of social buzz directly correlates with an increate in show ratings.

Social Chatter’s Influence on TV Ratings

The statistics found in this new study help drive home the fact that social media is now a largely important factor in television viewership, and also gives a deeper look into who is being influenced to watch a show by social chatter. In terms of when, during the course of a TV season, the buzz is most influential on ratings, we find that the peak influence of social buzz is around the time of a show's premiere, with a 1% increase in the show's ratings per 9% increase in social TV chatter. This correlation slightly lowers but levels out for the rest of a show’s season, and around both the mid-season and finale, a 14% increase in social TV chatter correlates to a 1% ratings increase.

Who Is Being Influenced?

Younger social media users, mostly teenagers and people in their 20's, seem to be more susceptible to influence, and when looking at who's talking and who's listening, this would make sense. The younger audience will generally be more receptive to the advice of their elders, and this 'elder' factor also plays a role in showing who isn't as influenced by social buzz, people over 50. However, it is important to note that by a show's finale, these age distinctions are blurred and a larger variety of users are influenced by social TV chatter. Women seem to be more influenced by the chatter than men, and this distinction is much more apparent at the genre level. Females in the 18-34 demographic felt more compelled to watch reality shows, competition or not, with more chatter, as well as dramas and comedies. As for the male side, it appears that men are more influenced to watch competitive reality shows, as well as dramas.


This study helps complete the cycle of social media and how it influences the television space. I've discussed before the statistics of those who are talking about television, and with these new findings we figure out how many people are listening and responding. With this completion, it is now clear that the relationship between television and social media is a two-way road, and that both compliment one another at an unprecedented level.

Source: Nielsen / NM Incite

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