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Nielsen and Twitter Team Up to Measure Social TV

The present is a great time to be in the public relations industry: never before have so many people done so many things while in contact with so many others.

Thanks to social media and the continuous miracle that is technology, we never do anything alone anymore (with a few obvious exceptions, ahem).

There was a time when television was a passive pursuit that involved tuning into a favorite program and ignoring the rest of the world. That dynamic, however, has changed. Watching TV has become an active–even interactive–experience.

So it makes perfect sense for TV ratings monolith Nielsen to join forces with Twitter, creating a new ratings system that will generate metrics for viewers who comment on TV shows and those people who read or interact with said comments.

It’s fun to open a bottle of red wine and log onto Twitter while movie stars walk down the red carpet to accept awards in clothing worth more than your apartment. It’s entertaining, cathartic and always good for a laugh.

But if the Oscars aren’t your thing, there is always the NFL, which suffered a major public relations disaster this weekend as the league’s less-informed (and, let’s be honest, flat-out racist) fans took to Twitter to vent their displeasure about President Obama’s speech in Newtown, CT, taking precedence over the New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers game. Wow. Not exactly the image the NFL wants for its fans.

Twitter and TV are the new peanut butter and jelly, and fans of shows ranging from “premium” dramas like Homeland and Breaking Bad to more populist hits like The Voice and Modern Family know that live tweeting these programs as they air actually beats watching them later on DVR and skipping the commercials.

In fact, TV shows today often succeed or fail via social media: a new show either inspires an online #nameofshow community that blossoms into an active fan base brimming with analysis, speculation and interpretation… or it fizzles out amidst a cloud of Internet criticism.

We love the irony of the fact that the same digital and mobile technologies that once threatened TV’s very existence have now made it more relevant than ever–at least for now.

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