I must admit that when it comes to tweeting and watching TV at the same time, I'm guilty. I love the shared conversation that can take place when fellow TV-watchers use hashtags, tweet and re-tweet during the shows I like – and it appears I'm not alone.
Twitter, according to television ratings firm Nielsen, serves as a "digital water cooler" – a forum for discussion that can be enjoyed by TV fans across the globe in real-time.
There's no denying the reach of Twitter. In fact, the microblogging site has 140 million users, who send a collective one billion tweets every two and a half days.
But until now, Twitter engagement among TV viewers has not been able to be evaluated using a common metric – but thanks to a new collaboration with the ratings group, a solution is in the cards for mid-2013.
Earlier this month, Nielsen and Twitter announced the new Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, which will act as as a definitive tool to measure the social engagement of television audiences from the start of the September 2013 TV season.
The new rating will complement Nielsen's existing research into TV ratings, and will give networks and advertisers valuable insights into how audiences are engaging instantly with their favourite shows.
"Twitter data [is] a necessity in producing standardised metrics representing online and mobile conversations about television," said a Nielsen press statement published on December 17.
Peter Rice, chairman and CEO of Fox Networks, commented that the reach of the microblogging site has the potential to provide valuable insight. He said: "Twitter is a powerful messenger and a lot of fun for fans of our shows, providing them with the opportunity to engage, connect and voice their opinions directly to each other and us."
His statements were echoed by David F Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS Corporation, who said: "We are pleased to see Nielsen and Twitter join together to provide a comprehensive measurement system that will allow us to employ these social networking tools to their full advantage."