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twitterlogoThe more people Tweet about a television show, the better its ratings are.

That’s what a new study from Nielsen and SocialGuide confirms in an attempt to examine the relationship between people Tweeting about TV and watching TV. It’s some of the first data we’ve seen that tries to use social media as a TV measurement platform.

“The TV industry is dynamic and it was important for us to analyze multiple variables to truly understand Twitter’s impact on TV ratings,” Mike Hess, Executive Vice President of Media Analytics for Nielsen, said in a press release. “While our study doesn’t prove causality, the correlation we uncovered is significant and we will continue our research to deepen the industry’s understanding of this relationship.”

Here’s what they found: For premiere episodes, an 8.5 percent increase in Twitter volume resulted in a 1 percent increase in ratings among 18-to-34 year olds. For mid-season episodes, a 4.2 percent increase in Tweets also resulted in a 1 percent increase in ratings.

For the 35-to-49-year-old age range, a 14 percent spike in Twitter volume resulted in a 1 percent increase in ratings. This spoke to the stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for the younger generation.

Nielsen credited the findings to the fact that 80 percent of U.S. tablet and smartphone owners use their device while watching TV at least “several times a month.” The study also found that Twitter is one of three statistically significant variables, along with  prior-year rating and advertising spend, to align with TV ratings.

“While prior-year rating accounts for the lion’s share of the variability in TV ratings, Twitter’s presence as a top three influencer tells us that Tweeting about live TV is likely a significant indicator of program engagement,” Andrew Somosi, CEO of SocialGuide, said in the press release. “We expected to see a correlation between Twitter and TV ratings, but this study quantifies the strength of that relationship.”

Previously on GeekWire: Revamped Nielsen ratings may include Xbox video viewing

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