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Does Twitter’s Smaller, Younger User-Base Reflect TV Viewership?

October 7, 2013

Television shows generating the most activity on Twitter often are not the ones with the highest viewership, a new Nielsen rating says. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Twitter’s 49.2 million U.S. users are generally younger and disproportionately live in cities — a very different demographic than the mass TV audience that marketers spend tens of billions of dollars annually to reach.

But marketers still see potential value in knowing which shows have enthusiasts on Twitter. In theory, if a show’s fans are engaged on the social-media micro-blogging site, “the ads are also being paid attention to,” says Steve Kalb, director of video investment at the Mullen advertising firm. The stakes are high for Twitter, which is being scrutinized ahead of its initial public offering of stock and has identified TV-related ad spending as a crucial driver of its revenue.

Two CBS shows, “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS,” are among the most watched programs on television, but in terms of reach on Twitter they’re not even in Nielsen’s top 10. Other shows, like the series finale of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” have large audiences and are also hits on social media. But according to David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS, most word- of-mouth interactions about TV still occur face to face, not on social media. While Twitter’s importance is growing, “right now it is focused on a small segment of the population.” — Greg Beaubien


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