Twitter and TV, TV and Twitter. A new study from Nielsen has put down the first marker on the relationship between the microblogging platform and broadcast television programs, concluding that tweets can cause a “significant increase” in viewership 29 percent of the time.

Despite this nugget of promise for broadcasters and Twitter, the New York Times reports that Nielsen’s research is largely inconclusive at this point. Looking at Twitter activity in relation to 221 different prime time TV programs, the study concluded that “most of the time, there was no statistically significant relationship between the two sets of data”.

Results varied by genre, as you’d expect, with ‘reality TV’ shows coming out on top based on viewership drive by Twitter. However, as AllThingsD reports, Nielsen’s data was unable to quantify the exact impact that Twitter’s 140-character messages can have on TV shows; the research firm says it will explore that issue in more depth in the future.

Nonetheless, the 29 percent figure is likely to be one that is heralded by Twitter — which is making a sustained effort to appeal to broadcasters as a medium for channeling discussion points and helping promote programs — and broadcasters that are spending time and money exploring the possibilities of digital media.

“Over all, this does validate that additional research around this influence is worth pursuing,” Mike Hess, senior researcher with Nielsen, told the NYT.

Twitter and Nielsen launched the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating, the first social measurement of TV popularity, in December 2012, but Nielsen says its latest findings come from independent reporting.

Headline image via thecampbells / Flickr