Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

On Twitter, “The Real Housewives Of New Jersey” Trumps “Modern Family.” Why?

Twitter loves TV. And TV loves Twitter.

But the relationship between the two, which Twitter has been actively trying to promote in the last nine months or so, is a funky one: Sometimes Twitter gets excited about TV shows that lots of people don’t care about. And sometimes TV’s most popular shows aren’t nearly as popular on the social messaging service.

You can see this illustrated quite effectively via data from SocialGuide, a start-up that tracks who’s saying what on the Web about live TV. SocialGuide wants to track TV commentary on all of the social media platforms, but right now it has the best bead on Twitter, because it has access to the service’s data “firehose.”

So while the chart below, which looks at TV shows that aired during the last week of May “sweeps,” technically encompasses more than Twitter data — there’s some Facebook commentary included there, for instance — it’s best to look at it as a Twitter proxy for now:

Notice that some of the most popular shows on TV are also a big deal on Twitter: American Idol, Glee, and some of the NBA playoff games map very closely on the two rankings.

But in other cases, there’s a big disparity.

For instance, there’s a slew of reality shows — “Mob Wives,” “America’s Best Dance Crew,” “Khloe & Lamar,” etc., that don’t crack the Nielsen top 100 for the week, but all place very highly on SocialGuide’s chart. Meanwhile, some of TV’s most popular shows, like “NCIS” and “Modern Family,” show up much further down SocialGuide’s rankings.

(If you’re interested in methodology, here’s a brief version: SocialGuide is only tracking commentary made while the shows are airing. But it’s attempting to track both explicit “check-ins” — either made using Twitter hashtags or via services like GetGlue — and implicit ones, when users refer to the show by name, etc.)

So what does that tell us? Hard to say. It’s tempting to make demographic links on some of these shows — for instance, surveys show that Twitter has a disproportionately large African-American user base, and perhaps that skews the ratings for shows like “Love & HipHop.”

But the data is pretty scattered, so I’d be wary of that: Anyone want to suggest why “Extreme Couponing” does well on Twitter? Also, is “Extreme Couponing” what I think it is?

In any case, the dream scenario for Twitter’s sales and marketing team (hi, Adam!) would be data that shows increasing Twitter popularity reflected in a show’s ratings. SocialGuide is just starting to publish this data, so it will be worth watching in the months to come.


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle