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Nielsen study: Facebook activity around NFL games is “strong estimator” of tune-in

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By Adam Flomenbaum, Co-Executive Editor

February 4, 2016 | 2 min read

Ahead of Super Bowl 50, Facebook today released the findings from a study conducted with Nielsen showing the correlation between social activity on Facebook before, during, and after NFL games and TV tune-in.

Nielsen analyzed the data for nine NFL games between October and November 2015.

In looking at Facebook activity in the 15 minutes leading up to the game, Nielsen found that Shares and Posts were “strong estimators” of tune-in. An increase of one Post during this timeframe correlated to approximately 250 additional viewers in the first minute of game action; in this same time period, an additional share correlated to 1,000 viewers.

During the game itself, Shares also correlated with an increase in TV viewership.

Finally, in the closing minutes of the game and afterwards, Facebook activity surrounding the game tends to increase while viewership decreases. This inverse relationship shows that Facebook can extend the life of sporting events even after they’re over.

The study shows why Facebook recently released “Sports Stadium,” a devoted hub where content related to games live. One of the main features of the hub is surfacing content from friends and their comments on plays. As the numbers suggest, even conservative increases in the number of Posts and Shares due to Sports Stadium can have an exponential impact on viewership numbers.

And you can bet that Facebook will find a way to attract more ad spend because of that.

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