Twitter Inc. and television-ratings provider Nielsen Holdings NV are forming a partnership to measure the amount of online discussion being generated by TV programs, the two companies said.
A new measurement, called the "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating," will be available in the second half of 2013, New York-based Nielsen said in an e-mailed statement. Terms of the partnership, which lasts multiple years, were not disclosed.
Twitter is building relationships in television and publishing as it courts advertisers and boosts sales to a projected $1 billion in 2014. By tracking TV audiences, the company could provide networks and their advertisers valuable data about which shows are most discussed on the Web, according to Todd Juenger, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
"If a show had a big audience and, on top of that, a lot of people were tweeting about it, it shows that the audience was not only watching, but they were engaging and paying attention," Juenger, who based in New York, said. "That is a piece of evidence the networks would like to have to show advertisers."
In June, one-third of active Twitter users posted on the site about something they watched on TV, up from 26 percent of Twitter users at the beginning of the year, Nielsen said in a report on social media this year. Adults between 25 and 44 years old are the most likely to discuss TV shows on social sites, the report found.
Television programmers have been asking Nielsen to measure how many people were discussing their shows online, according to Steve Hasker, president of global media products at Nielsen.
"There's a real interest in social television and what it might mean," Hasker said in an interview.
Twitter bolstered its entertainment ties last month by naming Peter Chernin, a former News Corp. president, to its board. The appointment was intended to help the company navigate the media industry, Twitter Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo said at the time.
Nielsen currently has no plans to partner with other social media sites to track TV audiences, Hasker said.
"Twitter is the most relevant social media platform for television," he said, pointing out that unlike Facebook Inc., postings to Twitter are largely viewable to all, making online conversations more widespread.