Wired published an excellent long read today about how the business of TV is changing in the age of DVRs, streaming video, multiple screens, and the thing that’s important to us here at SND … social media.
Nielsen Ratings have determined the fate of television shows for 40 years. The company used the viewing behavior of 25,000 families to measure which shows were working and which ones weren’t. Ratings aren’t as important as they used to be, and they are no longer the sole determining factor for keeping a show in production.
The Wired report cites NBC’s 30-minute sitcom, Community as an example of what is starting to matter more. Only about 4 million people watched the season premier of Community when it aired, but those 4 million viewers created two Community related trends on Twitter. When fans tweet about what they’re watching, it tells advertisers something really valuable. Those viewers are really engaged in the content, and they’re watching at the same time.
40 percent of Twitter’s traffic is about TV during peak usage.
Nielsen doesn’t yet have a way to measure a show’s viral lift, but they’re working on it. They bought Social Guide last November to help analyze the “social impact of linear television.” Nielsen is also working directly with Twitter in the development of its new social media metrics for TV.
Steve Hasker, Nielsen’s president of media products and advertiser solutions told Wired:
“Their ad sales guys want to be able to go to the market and say, ‘Our program has three times the engagement, because we’ve got many more people tweeting about it—and by the way, they’re young, they’re tech-savvy, and they buy lots of products.'”
Shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Parks and Recreation don’t generate remarkably high ratings, but they’re popular with the people advertisers want to reach. Advertisers will pay more to get to pitch to engaged audiences, even if those audiences would have previously been considered too small to keep a show in production.
Ultimately this is great news for those of us who appreciate well written, smart TV.
Read the rest of Wired‘s analysis of how TV is changing apart from the influence of social media.