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Nielsen’s Twitter rating goes live this week

nielsen-twitterNielsen is firing up a new metric today that measures the unique reach of tweets tied to TV shows. The Twitter rating looks at the universe of people who saw — not necessarily engaged with — tweets about a particular show. “If your show is creating conversations on Twitter, it is more valuable, and you should get credit for that,” said Rachael Horwitz, a spokeswoman for Twitter.

As you might expect, Twitter ratings don’t always line up with traditional ratings. For the week of September 23-29, only two of the top ten highest-rated shows made Twitter’s top ten list: two episodes of “The Voice,” according to data provided to the WSJ. The top Twitter show, Breaking Bad, garnered a unique Twitter reach of 9.3 million, topping Twitter’s list. While the finale was highly-rated on cable (10.3 million viewers), it did not make the top ten TV shows overall.

CBS had five of the top ten shows on TV, but none of them made Twitter’s top ten. CBS has previously pointed to research that suggests that most buzz about a TV show is driven by old-fashioned word of mouth, not social media.

Others point to Twitter’s younger-skewing demographics, the likelihood for some genres of shows to perform better, and Twitter’s smaller scale compared to the overall TV universe as reasons to express early uncertainty in the consistency of Twitter ratings. While Nielsen research has shown Twitter can drive TV ratings in some circumstances, not every network is sold on the potential quite yet.

“We feel this is going to be a credibility-building moment for the industry,” said Andrew Somosi, the chief executive of SocialGuide, which is now part of Nielsen. The NYTimes says that Nielsen expects TV networks will start to promote their Twitter ratings performance the same way they do broadcast ratings. So far, Nielsen has declined to name which media customers have purchased the Twitter rating service.

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