A new study says that tweets about a TV program can mean its success.
Nielsen reported that tweeting about a TV show generally is an "additional signal" of how a program is going to fare, according to the Wall Street Journal. From the Nielsen report:
Twitter TV activity did prove out as an additional signal that could be used together with other factors to anticipate premiere audience sizes. This is notable because if Twitter TV activity could be used along side other data sources to help determine TV audiences, then agencies could fine-tune their buys before the premieres. Networks could identify potential winners and challenges earlier to maximize ad sales and course-correct marketing activities
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Basically, the more Twitter buzz about a series usually means more people are going to be watching. If there's not much chatter about the show on Twitter, it's likely not going to reflect a big audience. However, for networks that means more information and ability to charge more for ads on a hot show.
The study does not say that Twitter itself boosts audiences, but it is an indicator of the audience size. Although it doesn't guarantee higher numbers of watchers, many TV programs are asking their actors or staff to tweet about the show.
Nielsen analyzed 42 broadcast and cable channel programs for four weeks and ended the study two weeks prior to the premiere of each series. It found that the more a show was advertised, the larger the audience -- but it also found that when related tweets about the program were used, it could accurately predict the size of the audience on the series premiere up to 65 percent.
It would seem if you want a series to stick around, you must tweet about it weeks before it premieres and continues to do so.