In the Mad Men era, Nielsen audience ratings were enough to make or break a show. Today, what matters is not how many people watch it, but what proportion of them encounter an advert, rather than fast-forwarding through the breaks on Sky+, while checking Facebook on their phones.
As TV moves onto connected devices, the most profitable shows will swap advertising for e-commerce, persuading viewers to go straight to an online purchase. We have to hope that quality drama can continue to find alternative revenue models to this…
- Last Tuesday, Nielsen announced that they were adding a count of how many people were Tweeting about a show to their metrics. That Twitter rating will be all important, as it describes just how many people are making online interactions during a show, and how easily, therefore, they can be targeted with advertising linked to the products placed in the show.
- There is a symbolic importance to this new metric – the great scorekeeper of old media, acknowledging the importance of the new. There is also a practical importance. Shows like Big Brother, where literally every item in the house – furniture, kitchenware even the contestants’ clothes – are product placement are becoming enormously profitable. Programming where things like ‘plot’ and ‘character’ get in the way of efficient e-commerce may become less so.