Sign up FAST! Login

NBC Pokes a Hole in Twitter’s TV Story | Re/code

Stashed in: Twitter!, Facebook!, Social Media, Second Screen, Twitter

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Twitter and Facebook do not make us more engaged with television:

He comes to that conclusion after looking at the effect of Twitter, as well as Facebook, on NBCU’s ratings during the Winter Olympics. Wurtzel saw lots of chatter about Sochi on social media, but none of that seemed to translate to increased viewership.

The crucial quotes from Wurtzel, relayed by the FT’s Emily Steel: “Why wouldn’t I want to say to you, ‘We have a potent new way in which we can drive ratings?’” But “it just isn’t true,” he added. “I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers.”

The FT piece has plenty of caveats, and notes that it may be possible that Twitter is increasing eyeballs for programming that reaches smaller audiences — it’s easier to have more impact when you’re starting with a lower base.

And Twitter has previously pointed to research from Nielsen that said that in some cases, it thinks that Twitter has some effect — though it couldn’t say how much — on ratings.

But bear in mind that until now NBCU, like many other TV networks, has been an enthusiastic partner with Twitter. Last year the programmer and its parent company Comcast announced a “strategic partnership” that was supposed to tie the pay TV provider and its networks directly into Twitter, by giving Comcast subscribers the ability to record shows directly from Twitter, and even watch them using the service.

“We want to make the conversation on Twitter lead to consumption,” said Sam Schwartz, Comcast’s chief business development officer, at the time.

The best spin on this for Twitter (as well as Facebook, which has been playing catch-up when it comes to pitching itself to TV) is that there’s no reason for the TV guys to stop playing nicely with Twitter: It costs very little to experiment, and if they can find some way to make the service deliver on its promise, then it’s worth the effort.

And perhaps Twitter can find other metrics that programmers, and their advertisers, value beyond ratings. Maybe they can argue that Twitter keeps TV viewers more “engaged.”

But Twitter has made its TV ties a central part of its pitch to advertisers — it’s one of the reasons it’s on track to do more than $1 billion in revenue this year, despite user growth issues. And Twitter has usedthat story to help sell itself to Wall Street. If it doesn’t pan out, that’s a real problem.

Twitter needs a new story. It's not about ratings.

You May Also Like: