The Nielsen study released today provides statistical evidence that there is a link between Twitter chat and a rise in TV ratings for some shows. The Twitter Causation Study analyzed minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s Live TV Ratings and Tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen’s SocialGuide. The findings showed that Live TV ratings had a statistically significant impact in related Tweets among 48 percent of the episodes sampled, and that the volume of Tweets caused statistically significant changes in Live TV Ratings among 29 percent of the episodes. “Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of Tweets, and, conversely, a spike in Tweets can increase tune-in,” Paul Donato, Chief Research Officer, Nielsen, said in a statement. “This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry as a whole with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing.”

The study confirmed what many industry observers believed to be true — that increases in TV ratings during an episode caused more people to tweet more often. “These results substantiate what many of our TV partners have been telling us anecdotally for years: namely, that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming,” said Ali Rowghani, Twitter’s Chief Operating Officer.

There is more to come on this subject. Nielsen and Twitter are set to begin publishing this fall a new “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating” that measures the volume of Twitter conversation about every program.

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