Nielsen turning to Twitter for social TV ratings

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I admit it, I like TV. Our household is one of those horrible places where we eat dinner in front of the TV every night. I know, I know, it's a terrible habit but we do it anyway. And the fact that we're both geeks means two things: everything we watch is time-shifted via DVR or streaming and we gravitate towards 'genre' TV.

Genre shows are always getting canceled prematurely (at least, prematurely in my opinion) and of course cancellations are generally based on ratings. Nielsen has traditionally been one of the main sources of these ratings (though that has been changing in recent times) but Nielsen only counts a 'representative sample' of households. If you don't have a bunch of Nielsen gear attached to your TV, they're not counting you. Or more importantly, me, since I've never been a Nielsen household.

But maybe things are changing! Yesterday Nielsen announced something called the "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating."

The announcement is pretty light on details but I here's what they say:

The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will enhance the social TV analytics and metrics available today from SocialGuide by adding the first-ever measurement of the total audience for social TV activity – both those participating in the conversation and those who were exposed to the activity –providing the precise size of the audience and effect of social TV to TV programming.

SocialGuide, recently acquired by Nielsen and NM Incite, currently captures Twitter TV activity for all U.S. programming across 234 TV channels in English and Spanish, and more than 36,000 programs. Through a sophisticated classification process, SocialGuide matches Tweets to TV programs to offer key social TV metrics including the number of unique Tweets associated with a given program and rankings for the most social TV programs.

I'll let them worry about the mechanics of how it all works. I'm just happy to know that (perhaps) Nielsen will start counting and reporting the interests of an admittedly self-selecting but at least different group of people. I'm going to make a point of tweeting about it every time I tune into my favorite shows. I think you should too.

Not yet though. The system doesn't kick off until next fall.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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