Can Twitter Save Live TV?

Here at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, industry execs are relieved, and a bit surprised, that despite the fact that nearly 40 percent of Americans own a DVR, live TV ratings are holding up. In fact, ratings for events like the Super Bowl and even American Idol are as high as ever. People are spending hours a day on social media, but instead of eating into TV time, the likes of Twitter and Facebook may actually be encouraging more people to tune in, in real-time.


Twitter is creating an online water cooler, which is driving more people to tune into TV shows to be part of the digital conversation.

Twitter says that the number of tweets during a live sporting event or awards show can spike to as much as fifty times the average. And it seems to work when broadcasters try to create 'events.' Comedy Central featured a Twitter hashtag in its roast of Donald Trump, which yielded the highest Tuesday night ratings in its history.

And when people aren't tweeting, they're surfing the web. Nielsen reports that 58 percent of TV viewers admit to occasionally multitasking, spending time online while in front of the tube. And those numbers peak during live events. Nielsen reports that 13.2 percent of Super Bowl viewers were active online during the game, while 11.6 percent of Oscar viewers were online.

Online chatter on social network is so powerful video index clicker uses Facebook conversations to drive its recommendation engine. The fact that there's so much public information out there with opinions about TV shows, allows them to give their users a better experience.

And the networks are jumping onto the trend to drive users. CBS recently hosted a 'Tweet Week' with featured Twitter feeds for different shows, while many of its actors are frequent on the site. NBC Universal(*Note: CNBC and NBC are both owned by Comcast, the majority owner in a partnership with General Electric) recently struck a deal with a service called 'Get Glue,' for its cable channels to reward viewers who tell Facebook friends and Twitter followers they're watching its shows. And Ryan Seacrest's tweets drive viewers to Fox's 'American Idol' and his show on 'E!'