Gauging the actual success of online content needs more than a social media metric

How accurate is social media at gauging the real success and reach of a TV show or digital movie? At the beginning of this year, "engagement," or how often viewers mentioned a specific piece of content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other site, was heralded as an innovative (and cheap) way for content providers to get their finger on the pulse of viewer tastes.

But the data hasn't always seemed to jibe with other audience measurement stats. For example, Engagement Labs, which puts out a weekly "eValue" index for broadcast TV series, noted that many shows that have low Nielsen ratings actually have very high social media engagement scores.

For our latest report around social media engagement of video content, we explore Engagement Labs' findings a little more in-depth and get some insight into perhaps why people are tweeting about certain shows.

We also take a look at the way different measurement firms, including Nielsen, comScore and Rentrak, gauge the role of social media in analyzing why certain OTT properties do better than others.

The report summarizes the publicly available download and purchase stats for digital movies, via Rentrak, as well as the top video websites in the third quarter via comScore's Video Metrix rankings.

As 2016 approaches, online video and social media measurement are bound to get more interesting. TiVo, for example, said it will begin releasing viewing stats collected from its systems beginning in 2016, giving yet another insight into viewer behavior.

Check out our third-quarter report of online video and social media engagement numbers here.