Ryan Seacrest had a rockin’ New Year’s Eve indeed as his ABC show – featuring performances by Fergie, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum – topped the week’s Twitter TV ratings from Nielsen. Three other New Year’s Eve specials – from Fox, CNN and NBC – also made the top 10, though the real action was on the sports top 10, where college football’s first national championship playoffs attracted as much as double the online interest.
Overall, the Seacrest special – its full name is still Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest – generated 328,000 tweets seen by 4.7 million people. That was roughly triple even the Fox NYE special featuring omnipresent singer/host/social-media maven Pitbull, which ended up fourth with 1.6 million people seeing 81,000 tweets.
Nielsen’s Twitter TV ratings measure the unduplicated audience of people who’ve seen at least one Twitter post about a show during its initial broadcast or during the three hours before and after.
The holiday week featured some other surprise entrants, including the big Season 5 premiere of Downton Abbey, set in a period a century before social media, and the last Fox News broadcast of Mike Huckabee’s eponymous show, as he heads off to what is expected to be a 2016 run for president. And speaking of social-media omnipresence, there was a Kardashian reality show at No. 9, and more hearteningly, the premier of ABC’s well-reviewed musical-comedy series, Galavant.
On the sports Top 10, college football turned the tables on the NFL, in part because of the two most watched cable-TV programs in history, ESPN’s broadcasts of the first two national championship semifinal games. The face-off between Oregon and Florida State topped the charts with nearly 2.6 million tweets that reached 10.1 million viewers. That was despite the thorough beating that Oregon administered to the defending champs, who had made a practice all season long of narrow escapes. No such luck this time.
The other semifinal game, between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State, was much closer, and a much bigger surprise with the Buckeye win, but it also generated lots of conversation, 1.9 million tweets seen by nearly 8.6 million people. Wedged in between was the first playoff win in seeming decades by one of the NFL’s biggest teams, the Dallas Cowboys. The other three NFL playoff games all made the top 10, as did three other New Year’s Day college bowl games.
The only outlier? A pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship bout between light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, a crowd favorite, and Daniel Cormier. Jones won again Saturday night, then tested positive today for cocaine use. Reports indicate that he entered rehab immediately.
As always, Nielsen provides a healthy array of caveats to accompany its numbers, to wit:
Nielsen Social captures relevant Tweets from three hours before through three hours after broadcast, local time. Unique Audience measures the audience of relevant Tweets ascribed to a program from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5am. Sports Events include those on Broadcast and National Cable Networks only across all day parts. For multicast events, networks are listed alphabetically and metrics reflect the highest Unique Audience across all airing networks.