Twitchy told you last December about the team-up between TV ratings firm Nielsen and Twitter to create a new measure of viewer engagement. The new list will be released weekly and rank television shows on four new metrics:

  • Tweets – Tweets ascribed to a linear TV episode.
  • Unique Authors – Unique Twitter accounts that have sent at least one tweet ascribed to a specific TV episode.
  • Impressions – The number of times any tweets ascribed to a TV episode were seen.
  • Unique Audience – The total number of distinct Twitter accounts accruing at least one impression of one or more different Tweets ascribed to a TV episode.

In other words, the new ratings take into account chatter about a TV show on social media. ABC’s “Scandal,” which placed 10th on the standard Nielsen scale for broadcast TV, easily topped the new Twitter-enabled list.

MTV’s documentary on Miley Cyrus came in second, probably buoyed by a hashtag campaign that would “unlock” extra content in return for instances of the #UnlockMiley hashtag.

Some are concerned that tweets are an easy way to “game” the system. Some shows are actively soliciting hashtags, while fans have figured out the system and are doing what they can to boost ratings. For example, fans of “Supernatural” sent out instructions to viewers.

What happens, though, when people who aren’t even watching the show start using the hashtag? #Sharknado, anyone?