Twitter said Monday that it has struck an agreement with Nielsen to create a "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" that will measure the total audience for social TV activity on Twitter, including both people who comment and people who are exposed to their comments.
"As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming," said Chloe Sladden, VP-media at Twitter, in a post on Twitter's blog. "This new metric is intended to answer that request, and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating."
Networks and marketers have indeed been closely scrutinizing and encouraging social-media activity around TV shows. It has remained unclear in many instances how much benefit social chatter ultimately provides for ratings or advertisers, but something closer to an industry-standard gauge could be one step in better understanding that equation.
Twitter has been getting more serious about TV, signaled in part by the hiring of industry veteran Fred Graver this summer as head of TV. Mr. Graver discussed a potential Twitter rating for TV at the Ad Age Social Engagement/Social TV Conference in October (see that video here).
While Twitter is the site of many TV conversations, it is not the only social platform where TV echoes. Facebook has been asking networks and brands to let it help extend the conversation about TV, and startups such as GetGlue and Viggle offer their own ways for viewers to check in to shows.
Nielsen emphasized Twitter's prominence among social TV contenders. "As a media-measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data," said Steve Hasker, president-global media products and advertiser solutions at Nielsen, in a statement describing the service.
Nielsen said the new rating will enhance the social-TV metrics already available from SocialGuide, owned by a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey & Co. SocialGuide captures Twitter activity for all U.S. TV programming.