Earlier this week, Nielsen, the group responsible for TV ratings that simultaneously dictate the rates for which networks can charge for advertising as well as the fate of individual shows on those networks, announced that it’s officially partnering with microblogging giant Twitter in taking a step forward, shall we say, past the end of the world. Together, they will make a “Nielsen Twitter Rating” to account for online buzz about a show in addition to the rather outdated traditional rating from Nielsen households. This could be a plus for some of our favorite comedies on television like Community, Conan, The Daily Show, Louie, and even The Chris Gethard Show.
This seems like a step in the right direction for accurately gauging viewership in an age where there is an ever more blurred line between the Internet and TV. However, given the nature of Twitter, we have our doubts.
There are no specifics at this time on how this will actually work or what the math will be, but we can’t figure how to pin a solid number that translates to real people tuned into a show off of them tweeting about it. Initially, this has to mean that there will be reminders ad nauseum to hashtag things while you’re doing them. Also, you don’t have to be watching the show to tweet about it. How will Nielsen account for negative tweeting towards a show?
It’s more of the same murky numbers that are only representative of what the popularity of a Thursday sitcom would be rather than the actual one. How is it that with DVRs, mandatory conversion to digital television, and an aggregate viewership of cable that beats out network, that there isn’t a way to much more closely count the number of people watching their favorite weeknight comedy?
We are glad to see that there is some changing of the old guard with TV ratings, but we’ll be watching closely to see how this all plays out and whether it would have made a difference for something like Arrested Development.