Regardless of the critical discussion focused on darlings like last night’s best drama Emmy winner HBO’s Game of Thrones, Broadcast network shows still rule the roost in the social media discussion of TV says a new study by Adobe Digital Index. Even as television studios have improved their social media promotion game overall compared to last year, five of the most-discussed upcoming new shows on social media come from one of the terrestrial channels. Further, while genre and brand familiarity matter, data indicates that engagement by a new show’s stars matter when it comes to moving that discussion along.
Adobe tracked over 20 million engagements on social media to reach these conclusions, looking specifically at blogs, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, Dailymotion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Foursquare, Metacafe, WordPress, and YouTube for 20 new series debuting this fall. “Twitter is the medium of choice” says Adobe Digital Index Manager Joe Martin – while most of these 20 new series have a presence on Facebook, all of them are on twitter, and compared to 2014, all of them were pushing their series on social media earlier in the summer. Fall TV premiere social media mentions increased an average of over 400%.
In ascending order, the top 5 most discussed shows have been ABC’s The Muppets, ABC’s Quantico, CBS’ Supergirl, NBC’s Heroes Reborn, and Fox’s Scream Queens. Like last year, the shows with the biggest impact on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are genre series, but being a genre show is not necessarily the contributing factor to that success. Name recognition matters, and in terms of getting the word out strong participation on social media by the stars of these news shows matters significantly.
The power of a built-in network audience is important as well, as is social media habits for increasing buzz. Broadcast shows rule Facebook, while the top-rated cable shows lead in Twitter followers. For example, CBS juggernauts The Big Bang Theory and NCIS have 10 million more likes on Facebook than summer blockbusters Jurassic World and The Avengers. That advantage paid off for NBC, for instance. Heroes Reborn was able to repurpose the existing following for the Heroes Twitter and Facebook accounts, making the show’s relaunch the second most talked about, with 3.9+ million page likes on Facebook, and ~88K followers on Twitter.
Of course, stars of the show including Zach Levi and Masi Oka were heavily promoting the show throughout the summer, a huge advantage in getting the word out. ABC had similar success with Quantico. Despite only 24k+ followers on Twitter and Facebook: 244k+ page likes, series star Priyanka Chopra leveraged her 11+ million Twitter followers, being the only lead on one of the new shows to rebrand her social media to promote her show, giving Quantico a strong push in August.
Heavy buzz was also created via promotional gimmicks. ABC saw mentions of The Muppets shoot up significantly after the scripted breakup of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog was unveiled. Since that event, social mentions increased by over 1000%, with over 60% of that activity happening the day the breakup was announced (August 4). The show’s Facebook page now has 6 million+ page likes, and its YouTube trailer has been watched 1.2 million times.
Similarly, Supergirl star Melissa Benoist was a heavy social user in support of that show, with 413k+ followers compared to the show itself only having 36K followers and 240K Facebook page likes. Of course, genre played a role here – with super heroes doing big business on movie screens and on television (as evidenced by Gotham‘s success, and the CW’s The Flash and Arrow), it’s not surprising that Supergirl‘s trailer has been seen over 14 million times.
Scream Queens was the clear winner, averaging nearly 100k more mentions per month between June and August than last year’s top buzzed shows, a success Adobe attributed in part to the show’s engagement with international viewers. All told, fall TV premiere social mentions increased on average of over 400% during the period of June to August compared to lat year, with Fantasy genre shows taking 88% of the social media pie.
Last year, the social media discussion was centered largely around the top five most-discussed shows, and while the top five still dominated in 2015, it wasn’t quite so cut and dry. The Muppets barely made the #5 spot, edging out Limitless and Best Time Ever, both of which were also strong contenders, particularly Best Time Ever once star Neil Patrick Harris began actively promoting the show to his 18+ million Twitter followers.
But does social media strength guarantee a show will succeed. Last year, the top five shows on social media were Constantine, Gotham, The Flash, NCIS New Orleans, and How To Get Away With Murder. All but Constantine enjoyed strong ratings (relative to their networks) and were renewed. We’ll soon see how this fall’s crop of freshman shows shake out.
Other takeaways from the study: The networks are following Cable TV trends by tending to specialize in certain types of programming. Fox is animation, ABC dominates drama, NBC dominates similarly with reality, especially The Voice, CBS with comedies, and the CW with fantasy shows like Vampire Diaries and The Flash/Arrow. Further, scripted TV and reality have vastly different social media footprints, with scripted series seeing a continuous discussion, and reality spiking during broadcasts, suggesting that advertisers can take advantage of targeted ads on television and social media, with impulse purchases in mind during reality show airings.