Twitter Gets Its Chance To Prove It Can Drive TV Ratings With Comcast Tie-Up

Comcast and Twitter have just announced a wide-ranging strategic partnership that is designed to get users reading tweets about shows to start tuning in, if they aren’t already. With the introduction of a new “See It” button that will appear in tweets about Comcast’s shows, viewers will be able to quickly switch channels or set their DVR to record shows directly from their mobile device.

Over the past few years, Twitter has tried to prove that its users’ conversations can move the needle for some shows by drawing more interest to what’s happening on the screen. At the same time, the actual correlation between the number of tweets a show’s viewers generate and the ratings of those programs to data has been kind of tenuous.

In August, a Nielsen study of Twitter influence found that the volume of tweets caused “significant changes” in viewing among 29 percent of TV episodes. Meanwhile, actual viewer tune-in led to more tweets for 48 percent of shows, according to the same study.

But when you compare the list of episodes that are most tweeted about with those that pull in the highest ratings, there’s little overlap between the two.

But here’s the kicker — the one show that actually appears on both lists? NBC’s The Voice.

All of which is probably why The Voice will be among the first programs to become part of the Comcast-Twitter strategic partnership, as the big media company attempts to figure out how to use technology to keep more viewers tuned in for longer.

Through the partnership, Twitter users will begin seeing a button labeled “See It” in tweets that are related to programming from shows that are part of Comcast’s NBC Universal programming arm. Once clicked, users who have signed in to their Comcast accounts will be taken to a page where they can choose to tune in live, either through their TV or on their mobile device, or set a DVR to record the program.

Comcast says that the partnership will encompass programming on a number of its NBC properties, including NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen, E!, Esquire Network, and The Golf Channel. And shows that it’s lined up to start taking part in the test include The Voice, The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, The Michael J. Fox Show, Sunday Night Football, Access Hollywood, NHL, Premier League Soccer, Sochi Olympics, Today Show, Psych, and Suits.

But at least at the start of the program, the See It button will only work for Comcast subscribers watching its own shows. Comcast is looking to expand that to include subscribers at other pay TV providers, as well as opening up the See It button to work for its own subscribers watching other networks. But it’s early days on that front.

In addition to trying to drive ratings with “See It,” Comcast and Twitter will be working on ways that the media company’s advertisers can extend their reach through Twitter. That’s being done through Twitter’s Amplify platform, and will include pretty much the entire NBC Universal portfolio — “two broadcast networks, Spanish and English language, 17 cable networks and more than 50 digital properties,” according to the press release.