Can Twitter Save Live TV?

/// Can Twitter Save Live TV?

March 21, 2013  |  Blog

More and more of us are watching TV on our own schedules. DVRs, Netflix, HBO Go and Hulu Plus just make it too easy to avoid the rush to make it to the TV at an appointed time to watch a show.

That’s bad news for advertisers who rely on catching eyeballs during live TV viewing to pitch their products. Bad news for advertisers is bad news for networks and content creators. If the advertisers aren’t there to finance their shows, it will be hard to come up with a new model to pay for the next Walking Dead or Scandal.

But a new study from Nielsen shines a rare good light on live TV. The study, done in conjunction with SocialGuide, shows that the more people are tweeting about a show, the higher the ratings. The study found tweets to be one of three significant variables (along with prior-year ratings and advertising spend) to align with TV ratings.

The study found that among coveted 18-34 year olds, a 4.2% increase in tweets corresponded to a 1% rise in TV ratings for a mid-season episode.

That doesn’t mean that tweets cause ratings to be higher. It’s more likely a sign that if a show is buzzy enough to get people tweeting while it airs live, it’s likely doing better in the ratings.

The lesson for broadcasters here: make more shows that people feel the need to watch live and that they want to talk about right away. TV shows are already inundated with suggested hashtags but it will likely take more than that.

Reality shows tend to attract this kind of stickiness because people often want to see the results live so it makes you wonder why the networks aren’t making even more reality shows. An excellent story on New York Magazine’s Vulture website yesterday explains why the most popular reality shows (American Idol, Survivor, The Bachelor) are long in the tooth and why networks aren’t green-lighting more reality shows. It’s worth a read but long story short, the nine-month schedule doesn’t lend itself to shorter seasons to try out shows. Networks are loath to get too risky. They also like to stick to the producers they know instead of taking risks on unknown talent.

But if networks can figure out a way to get more people tweeting about their shows (or to make their shows more tweet-worthy) there might yet be a future for live television.

Link: Can Twitter Save Live TV?

Forbes – Dorothy Pomerantz

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