Social TV metrics company SocialGuide bought by Nielsen

Steven Loeb · November 12, 2012 · Short URL:

Nielsen wants to find out how social media affects television ratings

We all know that the way we watch television has changed a ton in the past decade. And, it's increasingly changed with the emergence of the social Web. 

To this end, to find out what effect "social media" has on television ratings, NM Incite, a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey & Company, has purchased SocialGuide, it was announced Monday.  

What they'll be measuring is whether social sharing is helping to boost ratings. Most likely, it has. 

After all, when I was a kid, television watching became a bit more of a private activity. I couldn't wait for the new TV guide to come in the newspaper so I could see what movies would be premiering on HBO that week. I would get out my highlighter and mark all of the shows I wanted to see throughout the week and I’d be all prepared to set up my VCR with a new blank tape to record whatever shows I might have to miss.  

That all went out the window with the invention of the DVR, of course. What hadn't change so much with the emergence of the DVR, however, was the private aspect of viewing. And, with the proliferation of mobile devices, everyone in a family could be sitting around the TV, but with mobile tablet, phone and gadget in hand, could be engaged in totally different experiences. 

Yet now, the Internet has also enabled us to be social again, as people routinely go online to talk about their favorite shows, or to get more information. In many ways, we're back to watching shows as a "social" affair, much like it was in the very old days when people in town would go to the local theater and watch performances together.

What is SocialGuide? 

SocialGuide is a real-time social television capture service that covers programming on 232 channels in English and Spanish. It encompasses over 30,000 television programs.

Its analytics and engagement platform provides insight on the social impact of TV, enabling networks to engage with the social fan base in real time. 

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“The skyrocketing adoption and use of social media among consumers is transforming TV-watching into a more immediate and shared experience. As TV networks see this phenomenon unfold, they require understanding of the impact of social TV on their programming, ratings and advertising effectiveness,” Steve Hasker, President of Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, said in a statement.

“Nielsen’s expertise in creating industry standard consumer measurement means we are uniquely suited to establish a deeper understanding of today’s highly-engaged consumers through social TV metrics. We are thrilled by the addition of SocialGuide to our portfolio and welcome them to Nielsen.”

SocialGuide will be integrated into NM Incite. It will, along with Nielsen, focus on calculating how advertisers can get the most out of the relationship between social television and television ratings.   

What do people do with watching television?

That Nielsen would want to learn more about how social media impacts television watching was a development that was not very difficult to see coming, as a couple of their own studies from April of this year shed some light on the subject.

First, a Nielsen study found that nearly 86% of tablet owners, and 88% of smartphone users, play on their device while watching TV.

The study found that  that  the most common device activity occurring along with your TV viewing is checking email, with searches related to TV programming coming in second.

The second study broke down the demographics of who used their phones the most by age and gender, and what they were most likely to be looking at.   

It found that, once again, checking e-mail was the most common reason for going online while watching television. When it came to visiting a social network, the second most popular activity, women were more likely to do this than men, with 50% of women and 44% of men of performing that task.

Men, on the other hand, were more likely to check sports scores, and look up information about the show they were watching.

So Nielsen was already well aware that social television watching was having an impact, and they were already interested in finding out how it broke down. Now they are going all in and fully embracing the way people are now viewing their shows.

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