Nielsen Adds Facebook to Social TV Ratings

Television Outgrown Nielsen Illo - H 2015
Illustration by: Nate Kitch

Television Outgrown Nielsen Illo - H 2015

The Nielsen Social Content Ratings will measure conversation during a show's airtime as well as 24 hours a day.

Nielsen wants to know what TV shows are getting the biggest buzz on Facebook. 

The measurement firm is expanding its Twitter TV Ratings to include data from Facebook and, eventually, Instagram. The new reports are being rebranded as Nielsen's Social Content Ratings. 

The new ratings will measure online chatter about TV programs and streaming originals when they launch later this year. Social conversations will be measured both during a show's airtime and 24 hours a day. 

Nielsen's Twitter TV Ratings launched in 2013 to provide insight into the number of people talking about a show as well as the total reach of that tweet. The move came as Twitter was becoming more mainstream and studio executives began to watch certain shows take off on the social media platform. 

With 1.55 billion monthly active users, Facebook is home to a wide range of conversations. Those conversations have been harder to track because many users' accounts are private or only accessible to their friends. But the social network has made efforts to introduce users to the broader conversations happening on the platform, adding a trending-topics section that shows the news generating the most buzz. 

Inclusion into the Nielsen social ratings gives Facebook an additional foothold in the social listening space. "As more and more of our TV partners explore new and creative ways to engage with fans during and after the broadcast, it’s critical that they are able to measure and analyze their efforts," wrote Facebook media partnerships director Nick Grudin in a blog post on Tuesday. "Nielsen's Social Content Ratings are a part of Nielsen’s effort to measure the total audience across screens and platforms. This standardized measurement will help our partners create even better experiences for their most passionate fans, and that’s really exciting to us."

For its part, Nielsen has faced growing criticism from the TV industry over the way it measures viewership, which does not take into account much of the online and time-shifting viewing that is occurring. Broadening its social data offers a more complete picture about the people who are engaging with a particular show, which can be useful to both network marketers as well as advertisers.

"The development of Social Content Ratings reflects Nielsen’s commitment to continually adapt our services to meet the needs of the industry and is part of Nielsen’s ongoing effort to evolve our measurement to reflect the total audience across screens and platforms," Nielsen Social president Sean Casey said Wednesday in a statement. "Nielsen Social measurement is evolving to provide a comprehensive, standardized picture of how consumers are responding to program content through social media, wherever and whenever."