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Facebook goes deeper into data for TV networks

Facebook for every phone

The battle for the second screen is on — and Facebook’s taking another step towards proving to broadcasters that it can provide them some serious insight into what viewers are thinking about their shows. The big blue social network site is reportedly going to start feeding four of the US’s biggest networks weekly customised reports to shed some light on how audiences feel about everything from individual characters to the latest episode of their new show.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook will be compiling reports which give detailed insights into how many likes, comments, shares and posts have been generated in response to a specific episode and how many people were involved in the discussion. While there are analytics tools which allow you to monitor public conversations on social media sites, Facebook also reportedly plans to give broadcasters data about private posts which they would not have been able to access previously, showing them a clearer picture of what is actually being discussed, even behind privacy setting barricades. Facebook says this private data will be shown in aggregate format and anonymised to protect its users privacy.

The reports, which won’t be made available to the general public, will be based off a library of show-specific keywords which Facebook will track. These can include anything from the actual show title to main character’s names, so even more oblique references to a TV show will be recognised.

This is just the latest step Facebook has taken into the realm of real-time TV chatter — earlier this month, it announced it would be launching tools to help media organisations integrate Facebook conversations into their broadcasts or coverage of events. Before that, it (finally) introduced hashtag functionality to help surface and aggregate real time conversations about events like breaking news stories or live TV.

Even with the changes, Facebook still has a way to go before it becomes the go-to source for real time news. While Facebook’s its massive user base has led some to suggest that discussions on Facebook may be more representative of general TV audiences (at least, in countries like the United States), Twitter has already become a leader in real time news and discovery thanks to features like hashtags, trending topics and largely public profiles.

It has a head start when it comes to TV too — last year, it announced a deal with ratings company Nielsen to provide a metric for gauging the reach of TV-related chatter on the social network, and has since launched its Amplify product for broadcasters and acquired social TV analytics company Bluefin Labs to help it on its way.

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