By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)
The 110th World Series will start tonight with the San Francisco Giants facing the miracles incarnates Kansas City Royals. Will the tweets be watching?
Back in October 2013, Nielsen, the global information and measurement company which traditionally delivers TV ratings, debuted the Twitter TV Ratings. This new metric system consists of tracking the number of tweets, Impressions (how many times a tweet was viewed), Unique Audience (how many twitter accounts viewed a tweet) and Unique Authors (how many people sent out tweets) related to a linear television program. Over its first year, the rating system has proven an "angry black woman" owns television, people love fake reality and basically anything a quick glance at the the E! Network would reveal. The metric system will continually gain significance over the years as eMarketer predicts nearly 1/4th of the entire United States population will be active Twitter users by 2018. The true, untapped value of Twitter TV ratings is helping discover the difference between "viewing" and "caring".
The 2014 MLB postseason has exhibited enough late-game theatrics, superstitions and historical improbabilities to keep ESPN Films busy for a year pumping out documentaries. If you are under the age of 29, like roughly 40% of the U.S. population, the Kansas City Royals have been the emblems of mediocrity shining dimly at the bottom of the American League every year since their last World Series appearance in 1985. If you are a San Francisco Giants fan, a questionably high amount amount of your playoff confidence has derived from a coincidence turned theory (as most are in sports) that the 21st century Giants only win World Series on years that end in even number (2012 and 2010 World Series Champions, 2002 World Series appearance). Yet, with all of the made-for-TV magic imbued in "America's pastime", more people cared about the BET Hip Hop Awards than the elimination games of both League Championship Series for the week ending on October 19th.
Baltimore Orioles vs Kansas City Royals ALCS Game 4 (October 15th, 2014):
3.99 million views (live and same day DVR viewing) (3rd most viewed cable program)
5.87 million unique audience (202,000 unique authors sending out 450,000 tweets, 2.22 tweets per author with 59.778 million impressions)
DURATION: 3 hours and 15 minutes
St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants NLCS Game 5 (October 16th, 2014):
4.89 million views (live and same-day DVR viewing) (6th most viewed cable program)
4.92 million unique audience (183,000 unique authors sending out 469,000 tweets, 2.56 tweets per author, 55.939 million impressions)
DURATION: 3 hours and 15 minutes
BET Hip Hop Awards (October 14th, 2014):
2.94 million views (live and same day DVR viewing) (21st on most viewed cable programs)
7.08 million unique audience (520,000 unique authors sending 2,665,000 tweets, 5.13 tweets per author with 127.356 million impressions)
DURATION: 2 hours
Hard to see the forest for the trees nor the bigger picture for the numbers. According to a 2013 Washington Post, roughly 42 minutes (22%) of a 3+ hour baseball game is dedicated to commercials and over a combined 70 minutes (37%) are dedicated to the time in-between pitches. In comparison, the two-hour BET Hip Hop Awards broadcast totaled a combined 35 minutes (29%) of commercial time with relatively little dedicated to inaction (walking to podium, transitioning to performer/presenter, etc). The traditional TV ratings only tell us who is viewing, not if they are engaged. Viewer engagement is drastically different for these three television programs as both elimination League Championship games attracted a combined 3,343 tweets per minute. The NLCS Game 5 experienced 2.56 tweets per unique author and the ALCS Game 4 experienced 2.22 tweets per unique author. At 5.13 tweets per unique author and a whopping 22,208 tweets per minute, the 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards was all anyone wanted to tweet about that week.
But, the disconnect may be generational. The median age of people watching baseball on ESPN, TBS, MLB Network and FOX for the 2013 season was 54 years old. Only 6% (900k on average) of the 14.9 million viewers the 2013 World Series averaged were under the age of 18. In contrast, as of that very same October 2013, 43% of active Twitter users were between the ages of 10-19. While BET's audience aged by over 8 years in the past year, the most among the cable networks, its 43 year old median viewer age is still over a decade younger than baseball's with 75% of its viewers being 54 and younger. BET's audience is younger and as a result use less traditional means to view the broadcast (live stream) as evidenced by its 21st place ranking on traditional TV ratings compared to its 2nd place ranking on the Twitter TV ratings.
Traditional TV viewers are getting older with the advent of DVR, video-on-demand services and the illegal (and, curiously, high in ad traffic) streaming sites, but none quicker than baseball. Every year its median age gets older and, like most of its games, slowly erases the time from America's pastime until all that's left is a relic of the past. Baseball has made strides to modernity with MLB.tv live streaming every game of the ALCS, along with Game 1 of the NLCS. But, you can put "Golden Girls" on Netflix, doesn't mean it's going to transform into "Girls".
With MLB commissioner Bud Selig ending his 22 year tenure at the end of this year, it may be time for baseball to set its clock for futuretime.
Check out the full TOP 10 Twitter TV ratings below: