New Nielsen Research: Twitter drives +7 audiences

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Today, Nielsen unveiled research showing that a 10% increase in the Twitter impressions for the live airing of a show plus viewing of that show on video seven days later corresponded to a 1.8% increase in the “+7” audience (the number of people who watch the show via DVR or Video On Demand during the seven day period after the live airing).

Last year, Nielsen found that there’s a two-way causal influence between broadcast TV tune-in within the live window and the Twitter conversation around that program. Now Nielsen has quantified the extent to which Twitter impressions (the number of times any Tweets ascribed to a TV episode were seen) is correlated with lifts in viewing after the live airing.

What we’ve learned from previous studies analyzing the impact of TV conversation taking place on Twitter is that certain genres are easier for audiences to tune in to midway through the live broadcast, such as sports and reality programing. Our hypothesis is that within these genres, it’s easy for viewers to assess what’s happening the moment they tune in, without much need to have seen the program up to that point. Nielsen found that the live ratings for these genres are the most affected by Tweets.

For scripted programming, we start to see Twitter’s impact on tune-in when you expand to the +7 audience, which gives more viewers a chance to catch up on a show from the beginning. In fact, Nielsen selected a set of shows with the same characteristics aside from audience size and Nielsen Twitter TV Rating (NTTR) impressions and split each set of shows into two buckets: high social and low social. When they compared each set’s delayed viewing relative to its live audience, they found that “high social” shows had +7 audiences that are 36% larger than live audiences. By contrast, “low social” shows had +7 audiences just 16% larger. In other words, more social shows see a greater boost in time-shifted audiences than less social ones.

As the picture becomes increasingly clear that Tweets drive actions and tune-in, the next logical question may be, What are the best ways to drive conversation about my show?


We recently quantified the impact live-Tweeting has on the overall volume of conversation (and therefore, volume of impressions) for a program. Shows that featured live-Tweeting by cast members generated 64% more Tweets vs. programs that did nothing. Shows that live-Tweeted from the official handle also saw a 7% increase over those that did nothing.

“Moment” hashtags on-air

We continue to analyze the relative impact of different on-air and online tactics that our media partners employ to drive conversation and engagement about their programming. Our latest findings focus on the lift obtained from using ‘moment’ hashtags on air. ‘Moment’ hashtags are mainly used in reality programming, where the hashtag on the screen will change throughout a program based on events taking place. We found that leveraging a ‘moment’ hashtag drives a 20% lift in Tweets per Minute (TPM) for the ‘moment’ it represents. This lift is measured over the organic TPM levels achieved by such moments, but without use of the hashtag on air.

We also wanted to understand the quality of this conversation, and what we learned is that when an audience organically introduces a hashtag, it’s typically present in about 10% of all conversations during that moment. But when the hashtag is introduced on air, the volume of conversation using it jumps up to 27%. As a result, conversation about your program becomes easier to find, and likely has a higher chance of trending in user’s feeds.

As we continue to study the interactions between TV and Twitter, there’s much more to come!

Co-authored by Guy Hugot-Derville, Senior Data Scientist