Is Facebook The Future of Television Ratings?

Is Facebook The Future of Television Ratings?

I can clearly remember a few years ago, watching the local evening news when they announced there would be a “Twitter Blackout”. Users would be boycotting the platform in protest. While this alone wouldn’t have been remarkable, the idea that the TV news was covering a social media event was. Fast forward another year, and Nielsen began to take Twitter conversations into account to measure TV ratings. Hard to believe, but true.

Dating back to the late 1940s, Nielsen Media Research has become the gold standard for measuring an audience for both radio and television. Long story short, media companies rely on Nielsen numbers to defend their advertising rate card. The larger and better defined the audience – the more an advertiser is willing to pay for it. Although there are many factors contributing to these “ratings”, a bombshell was dropped this week when Nielsen announced they would now be taking Facebook data into account when calculating television ratings.

Citing statistics showing 85% of people who reported visiting a social networking site while watching television, said they visited Facebook – Nielsen seems to be setting a flag. While I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I find the thought that Facebook somehow contributes to television ratings absurd.

Yes, I often use a “second screen” (which has turned into the television buzzword of the decade), however – I use it to escape the show I’m watching, or to kill a few minutes getting through a commercial break I can’t fast forward through. The idea of placing an extended value on the content of a show based on how many people are using Facebook while watching it? Seems a bit far reaching.

It’s been announced Facebook will be feeding “anonymous aggregate program-related data” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s long been known that video killed the radio star, now will Facebook save the television star? Time will tell.