Nielsen's new Twitter TV Ratings show that an average of 50 times more people see tweets about TV shows than actually generate the tweets, Nielsen and Twitter said in a joint release.
Sometimes the ratio is much larger. During the week ended Sept. 29, for example, AMC's "Breaking Bad" was the most talked about show on Twitter, generating 1.2 million Tweets by 601,400 authors. Those tweets, however, delivered 129.6 million impressions
Until now, most social TV measures have focused on how many people wrote about TV shows on Twitter, without making any indication about the size of the audience that actually saw those Tweets.
Nielsen and Twitter's system allows them to measure is the number of times Tweets ascribed to a TV episode are actually seen, according to the companies. Every time a tweet is viewable on a mobile device or served to a personal computer, they said, that tweet is counted as an impression.
Total views could be even higher than the number of impressions, which control for duplication.
This data will give TV networks and advertisers a broader picture of the reach and influence of TV-related conversations. One of the goals is to help agencies and advertisers make data-driven media planning and buying decisions that incorporate the full impact of Twitter TV, the companies said.
But exactly what value a Twitter impression has for advertisers and TV networks remains the subject of debate.
During the last week in September, when "Breaking Bad" was the most tweeted show, NBC's "The Voice" came in at No. 2, with 273,500 tweets from 138,200 authors and nearly 14 million impressions on Twitter. ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Dancing With the Stars" placed third and fourth, respectively, followed by ESPN's "SEC Storied."
The top five ranking reinforces the fact that it's not always the series with the most TV viewers that generates the highest level of social media buzz.
In the second quarter, 19 million unique people in the U.S. posted 263 million Tweets about live TV, a 24% increase from the year prior in authors and a 38% in Tweet volume, according to SocialGuide, part of Nielsen.
Twitter has been making a bigger push in TV as it prepares to go public. But rival Facebook has also began sending out reports to the Big Four broadcasters last week detailing how many likes, shares and comments their shows received on the Facebook platform.