Nielsen just wrapped up the TV season, releasing a set of graphics breaking out the biggest of the big in its new Twitter TV Ratings, including with the highest-rated shows and the season’s record holders in various categories. No surprises here, really. Most of the biggest on Twitter are also the biggest on TV, and people like to talk about them on social media, including millions of Twitter posts reaching millions of followers, talking about such biggies as the series finale of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, the NFL and college football championships, and the Oscars and Grammy shows. The NFL’s Super Bowl was Twitter king, with 25.3 million tweets reaching an audience of 15.3 million followers. The Oscars generated 11.1 million tweets seen by about 13.9 million audience members. In a couple of words: this is event TV, made for appointment viewing, that thing that most TV viewers don’t do anymore with most shows.
It’s important to note that the way Nielsen measures Twitter audiences creates something of a tautology (look it up, kids; it’s your word for the day): Nielsen measures only the audience of unduplicated Twitter users who see a post by another Twitter user about a show during its initial broadcast and for the three hours before and after that broadcast. There’s no accounting here for the audience that watches and tweets about a show even half a day later on a DVR or Hulu or VOD or some other method (VCR, anyone?). So, when you only measure the Twitter tidal waves washing around at about the time of a show’s first broadcast, you only end up measuring those shows that attract a big initial audience. Lots of people are watching many kinds of shows these days in their own way and in their own time. Nielsen does it this way because advertisers know their commercials are less likely to be skipped in live broadcasts, and conversation about a brand tends to get more lift when it’s associated with a show.
The programs that benefit most from Nielsen’s approach to measurement are sporting events, awards shows and reality competitions. Nielsen wisely breaks up its usual weekly Top 10 ratings into one for Sports and one for Series and Specials. Here, they’ve taken another step and broken out the season’s top 10s into ones for Specials, Sports and Series, so you can see what rules in the world of event TV and at least the Twitter side of the burgeoning social media universe. The only surprise among the season’s record holders was the series that generated the most tweets per user: Univision’s Nuestra Belleza Latina. Clearly, the show’s fans had a lot to share. So, check ’em out. Here are the category by category top 10s. Any surprises for you?