Nielsen Study Reveals TV’s Social Chatter Mysteries

Javier Colon was announced as the first winner of NBC’s The Voice, a music competition in which contestants were selected and coached by some of the top artists in the music industry. However, what made this televised singing competition truly unique was its unprecedented level of social media integration, a key factor that helped make it the most successful NBC series in several years. The Voice proved that social media now plays a huge role in television success, and that a large amount of conversation on Twitter or Facebook now revolves around television programs. The key now is figuring out the who, what and when of this chatter, and a new analysis of social media data by Nielsen and NM Incite helps us determine this information.

Who are Social TV Chatters?

In its entirety, the social media population is comprised of more females than males (55% vs. 45%), and there tends to be a U-shaped curve in terms of age distribution (more than 60% are under 18 or over 50). However, when looking at the conversations related specifically to television, the numbers and trends shift quite dramatically.

In terms of gender, the percentages are switched when looking at who is discussing television, with 55% of the chatter coming from men. The age distribution also sees a dramatic shift, showing an upward curve when analyzing television chatter.

When Do People Share the Most?

A typical television season lasts about 9 months, premiering in September and ending the following May. By looking at the monthly distribution of TV-related social media conversations, one can see that this chatter typically follows the same pattern, with peaks occurring in both May and September. The first months in the year also tend to be higher as this is when scripted shows typically come back after a mid-season break and competition-based shows are aired.

As for daily distribution in a week, there is a definite arc with the two peak days being Tuesday and Wednesday. This pattern is to be expected as networks generally air their most popular shows on these two days for maximum viewership; for example, The Voice aired on Tuesdays.

What Topics Get the Most TV Chatter?

The biggest question in analyzing the social media data is what do the audiences discuss the most? By far the most discussed subjects are related to competition shows like The Voice (winning, fans, voting, judging). In terms of scripted shows, comedies seem to generate the most chatter, followed by romantic shows and then dramas. However, aspects of each of these shows also drive conversations such as the attractiveness of cast members or the writers and creators of a particular show.


The connection between television and social media is now stronger than ever, and viewing audiences now share their reactions and comments on the shows they see online. With this new data analysis, we can now paint a clearer picture and figure out what drives conversations about shows and help figure out what makes a show successful in the online world.

Source: Nielsen / NM Incite

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