Social Media Buzz Equals Ratings Boost for TV Shows, NM Incite Finds

Strongest among younger viewers

How many of you tweet, post, or “like” a link about a TV series before watching it? Turns out, when you share content from a show within social media, you’re not just telling the world about your interest—you’re actually helping to boost that show’s ratings.

A new analysis from NM Incite and Nielsen studied the correlation between social media buzz and TV ratings and found a significant relationship between the two over a course of a show’s season, with more buzz generally leading to higher ratings.

Unsurprisingly, the strongest correlation was among web-savvy 12-17 year-olds and 18-34 year-olds. Within the latter group, who Nielsen found to be the most active social networkers, social media buzz was most closely aligned with a show’s premiere ratings: A few weeks prior to a show’s start, a nine percent increase in social buzz equaled a one percent increase in ratings within that demo. The correlation got slightly weaker as the season went on, with a 14 percent increase in buzz corresponding to a one percent increase in ratings.

The study also found a slightly stronger buzz-to-ratings relationship among women. 18-34-year-old females showed the highest correlation for reality shows (both competition and non-competition), comedies, and dramas. Men in that demo showed the strongest correlation for competition reality shows and dramas.

Meanwhile, men over 50 saw the weakest buzz-to-ratings correlation leading up to any genre’s premiere and through mid-season. But that relationship got stronger by the show’s season finale, as all age groups took to their preferred social media outlets to discuss TV shows' last episodes.

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