Nielsen establishes role of social in audience figures



New research from Nielsen has found that earned social media ‘reminds’ people to watch an episode after the live airing.

To understand +7 viewership for any series’ episode, Nielsen evaluated 11 different variables across five categories—including measurements, as well as episode, program and network characteristics—to explore what factors contribute to viewers’ decisions to watch a show later in the week.

The most important factor changing how many viewers watch later was an episode’s live audience tune in, accounting for 42% of variance in +7 TV audiences. So, just under half of the difference between the live and +7 audiences can be explained by the size of the original live audience. Conventional wisdom on several other variables also bore out. For example, reality series were 31% more likely to be watched live. A premiere episode, regardless of genre, was 15% more likely to be watched live.

Interestingly, all 11 variables tested proved to be statistically significant: all measurements and characteristics Nielsen looked at affect time-shifted viewing. In fact, this integrated model explains 72% of the variance in the +7 audience, significantly higher than what the live audience could explain alone. Moreover, Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings (NTTR) impressions were significant, even after accounting for the effect of the other 10 variables. Specifically, a 10% increase in NTTR impressions corresponded to a 1.8% increase in the +7 audience, indicating that social media activity around TV programming is playing a role in driving viewers to watch programming later in the week.

To further explore social media’s effect on time-shifted viewing, Nielsen isolated a set of shows that have the same exact characteristics (e.g., broadcast, non-Spanish, drama series, etc.) aside from audience size and NTTR impressions. Splitting each set of shows into two buckets, high and low social, Nielsen compared each group’s delayed viewing relative to its live audience. For ‘high social’ shows, +7 audiences are 36% larger than live audiences while ‘low social’ shows’ +7 audiences are just 16% larger than live audiences. In other words, more social shows see a greater boost in time-shifted audiences than less social ones

“We are aware from our work with the ARF that exposure to TV Tweets drives consumers to take action,” reflects Judit Nagy, Vice President of Analytics, FOX. “And these recent findings further demonstrate an undiscovered opportunity in social word of mouth during and around live programming. For FOX programs, we see a relationship between ratings and a program’s social share of voice, demonstrating the potential for social conversation to generate and increase live +7 performance.”

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