The days of the family nuking their frozen dinners and gathering around the living room’s rabbit-eared TV set are long since past. Through streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, TV has migrated to the unsettled territory of the Internet, and even the TV that’s still on TV reaches a hefty portion of its audience via networks’ official sites or third parties like Hulu. Many young viewers in the coveted 18-to-54-years-old demographic have eschewed TV from their lives entirely, making for a generation of so-called “cord cutters” that free themselves from the tyranny of network scheduling by taking in all programming via computer. The gradual divorce of television and its programming has radically altered almost every aspect of the industry, but it’s made accurately gauging ratings nearly impossible.
The media research firm Nielsen has been the authority on TV viewership figures for decades, but they have had trouble adapting to our new digital age. A new report from the New York Times, however, suggests that they’re finally prepared to make the jump into the future, or at least the present. Nielsen announced today that the company would partner with Facebook and Twitter to include social-media mentions of specific TV programs in their viewership measurements. As the two dominant social networks in use today, these may be as accurate a metric for quantifying overall influence a show has on the public as actual tuned-in numbers. Every show on the air is desperate for a little bit of virality, the magical element that separates that one-season wonders from the smash hits. Now, with Nielsen specifically noting what does or does not create a ruckus on the world wide web, manufacturing that word-of-mouth will be more doable than ever.
(Via the New York Times)