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And its own TV-navigating tool. Peel is one of several sites that provide an on-screen customized remote control and a search mechanism for keeping track of favorite TV shows. Meanwhile, its social platform allows the user to find and follow friends to see what they are recommending.

As one special feature, Peel unveiled an “American Idol” app earlier this season, which, among other things, lets users post “Cheers” and “Boos” for each performer as a real-time interaction, which results in a leaderboard summarizing how the Peel community sizes up the performances.

“Most viewers want to have a rich engagement around a program,” says Peel marketing vice president Scott Ellis. “They’re looking for that intersection of the social TV platform and the second screen, which provides an enhancement of the programs they care about.”

But there’s more going on than that. Companies are tracking buzz from you outspoken viewers. Programmers and advertisers are interested in how you respond to their shows, stars, advertisements and brands. Social media exchanges are followed, quantified and analyzed.

With measurements like tweets per second, volume of show mentions, and conversation sentiment, social media have certified TV viewers as active participants, not just pairs of eyeballs. As a viewer who engages in social TV media, you are no longer held captive to the proxy voices of a few thousand households in a Nielsen audience sample. You are part of the world’s largest focus group.

For instance, on a recent Wednesday night, you made “American Idol” the top broadcast show, by far, on social media, according to figures compiled by from Twitter, Facebook and several other sites. There were 227,858 messages all day and 162,700 messages while the show was on the air. “Revenge” was second, with all-day activity of 93,723 and on-air activity of 68,541.

This comports with overnight Nielsens, which placed “American Idol” first with 16.5 million viewers, and “Revenge” second with 6.8 million viewers.

But third-place in the survey was “Late Night,” hosted by tech-savvy Jimmy Fallon, with daily activity of 51,924 _ compared with its relatively modest average of 1.8 million viewers. 

“By measuring people’s engagement around TV shows, whether through Twitter or with second-screen applications, there is now a new level of interactivity around the media itself,” says CEO Mark Ghuneim.

“TV has always stimulated conversation,” says Tom Thai, vice president of marketing at Bluefin Labs, another social TV analytical firm. “Whether in people’s living rooms, or as the proverbial water-cooler effect with people discussing shows at work, you watch TV and then you talk about it. But no one had been able to quantitatively measure those conversations, so they didn’t factor into business decision-making.

“Now we can now measure conversations,” he says. “But it’s not at the water cooler. It’s virtual.”

According to Bluefin’s analysis, “The Academy of Country Music Awards” on CBS last month inspired 676,000 social media comments, 28 percent of them identified as positive and 13 percent of them negative. A time line of the tweet rate during the broadcast finds a spike of 20,000 tweets at 10 p.m. Eastern time, when Toby Keith performed, and an evening-high jolt of 35,000 tweets shortly after 11 p.m., as Taylor Swift was crowned Entertainer of the Year.

CBS conducts lots of research of its own to harvest viewer feedback, notes David Poltrack, the network’s chief research officer. But as a Bluefin client, CBS recognizes that what is unique about the feedback Bluefin crunches “is the volume of responses: It is ongoing, in a continuous stream,” Poltrack says. “The question that is still to be resolved: How representative is that feedback? Only 10 or 15 percent of the population uses Twitter. Is the Twitter audience representative of the other 85 percent?”

CBS is busily assessing what this new social-media information means, and how it can best be applied in helping shape schedules, set ad rates and determine whether its shows live or die.

“We’re still in the exploratory stage,” Poltrack says. “We and Bluefin are learning together.”

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