Today, Nielsen will launch The Twitter TV Ratings, a new system designed to measure the amount of television discussion posted onto the social media web site.

The Twitter TV Ratings will measure both the number of people posting tweets about television shows as well as the number of Twitter users viewing those tweets. According to Nielsen, about 50 times more people view tweets than write tweets about television.

"As the experience of TV viewing continues to evolve, our TV partners have consistently asked for one common benchmark from which to measure the engagement of their programming," Chloe Sladden, Twitter's vice president of media, said in a blog post when the new rating system was announced Dec. of last year. "This new metric is intended to answer that request and to act as a complement and companion to the Nielsen TV rating."

Twitter conversations about major television shows have grown recently -- 265 million tweets were posted by 19 million people in the United States during the second quarter of this year, reports SocialGuide, the analytics company that will manage Twitter ratings. This is a 24 percent increase from last year.

"We feel this is going to be a credibility-building moment for the Industry," Andrew Somosi, chief executive of SocialGuide, said in an interview with The New York Times.

During the Sept. 29 series finale of "Breaking Bad," a record 1.24 million tweets about the series were posted. According to SocialGuide, that meant a peak of 22,373 "Breaking Bad" tweets per minute and the hashtag "GoodByeBreakingBad" being used almost 500,000 times. During this year's Super Bowl, there were 24 million tweets posted about the game.

"It's exciting that investments are being made to build 360 degree engagement-and drive passion from viewers-around programming," Steve Hasker, Nielsen's president of global product leadership, said  in a statement. "This holistic measure of how Twitter activity influences TV engagement will bring clarity to the value of those efforts."

The system is still being questioned, however. Nielsen's method considers a television-related post "viewed" no matter how briefly it appears on a user's screen. It has not yet been announced which networks or advertisers are paying to receive Nielsen's overnight data. So far, only Discovery Communications, which owns Discovery Channel, and Universal McCann, an ad-buying company, have been linked to The TV Twitter Ratings.

"What people often lose sight of is the fact that the overwhelming majority of conversations about TV shows still take place offline," Ed Keller, the chief executive of the Keller Fay Group, a market research firm that specializes in word of mouth for networks like CBS, told The New York Times.