Blame Beyoncé and Oprah, Karl Rove and Anderson Cooper for the change we’ve seen in TV news over the last few years. Although most Americans still get more news from TV than social media, it is about to be taken over and change the TV business for news organisations forever. This is according to the Pew Research Center that conduct research on where and what sources Americans use most to stay informed.
As Twitter specifically has become a substitute for the daily news, America’s TV ratings agency Nielsen (finally) found a causal link between Twitter and TV ratings saying a statement last week: “Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming.” (Full statement)
You might say ‘no duh’ to a statement like this but it’s part of Nielsen’s strategy to continue being paid for measuring America’s TV viewing. Since the start of TV in America, Nielsen has monopolised the space providing daily viewership for all TV channels. But when Twitter came along and started influencing viewer patterns, Nielsen didn’t have the technology or know-how to measure the correlation between tweets and viewership numbers. One startup in Cambridge, MA, called Bluefin Labs did however and, thanks to its amazing work, the company was acquired by Twitter.
In December, Nielsen announced a new partnership with Twitter that would result in a new TV measurement system to be released later this year. Why are they doing this? Because Nielsen is being threatened by Twitter’s aggressive interest in TV and signs of the disruption can be seen in more ways than one on America’s three cable news channels CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel. To explain the background to this and to understand how this ratings system will work, I produced this documentary: a sneak peek at the future of TV: