Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday-night trio – Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and newcomer How To Get Away With Murder – collectively dominated the first week of fall Twitter TV ratings, coming in at Nos. 1, 4 and 6 respectively on this week’s table for series and specials.
On the sports side, Derek Jeter’s last game proved enough of a conversation starter that the matchup, between two teams with no remaining playoff hopes, poked past all but one of a raft of NFL games and a college matchup featuring the return of a knuckleheaded Heisman Trophy winner.
Rhimes and her Shondaland team have been extremely effective in marshaling fans through Twitter, with stars and other show principals live-tweeting during each broadcast. This year, ABC added How To Get Away With Murder to their Thursday night block of shows, giving Rhimes a chance to further exploit her team’s Twitter expertise. Among other tactics, a joint tweet session featuring the stars of all three shows before this past week’s debuts, not to mention that selfie (see our photo above) with Ellen DeGeneres and the cast. And the results paid off with great ratings for all three programs too. It appears she’s found a combination that really works.
Interestingly, Rhimes’ new show wasn’t the only much-awaited newcomer in the top 10. Gotham, a sort of origin story for the Batman franchise, came in at No. 3, amid okay reviews and lots of online talk. The Voice put both of its newest episodes in the top 10 again, spurred by NBC’s “tailgate” pre-show tweeting sessions and more.
Also of note, Saturday Night Live poked into the top 10, though it may have been helped in the launch of its 40th season, by NBC’s decision to run vintage episodes of the show in primetime before the late-night broadcast. This week’s rebroadcast featured a particularly famous/notorious first-season episode hosted by the great Richard Pryor. That many critics, including Deadline’s Mike Fleming, found the new show wanting was perhaps almost inevitable, but it certainly gave people lots to tweet about, beginning much earlier in the evening than usual.
Nielsen created the Twitter TV ratings to track which shows are getting talked about on the social media platform during their initial broadcast, and for the three hours before and after. Typically, reality competitions such as The Voice, sporting events and big specials such as awards shows do very well.
Meanwhile, on the sports side, Major League Baseball finally broke through the NFL hegemony in Twitter TV ratings, though it took the last ball game of Derek Jeter, the Hall of Fame-bound 20-year shortstop of the New York Yankees and icon to many (including, again, our Mike Fleming, per this weekend’s conversation with Peter Bart). That Jeter managed to drive in a run with a single in his last at-bat no doubt stirred plenty of misty-eyed comments as he sidled off into retirement.
That said, it’s a mark of baseball’s challenges attracting a younger and more tech savvy audience that it couldn’t otherwise push through the NFL’s blanket of games. Even three MLB games in the last day of the regular season with playoff implications weren’t enough.
What did poke through, however, was another game featuring No. 1-ranked Florida State University tilt, this time against an undermanned but very game North Carolina State team. Most notable about the matchup was the return of Jameis Winston, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner who was suspended for last week’s game after he stood up in the student union and yelled an obscene phrase that had become an Internet meme.
That a) Jameis avoided another embarrassing moment in the intervening week so he was actually eligible to play again and b) that NC State gave FSU some serious competition for a while probably added to the game’s conversation on Twitter and beyond.
Among the NFL matches making the Twitter TV top 10, the Dallas Cowboys finally played like their “America’s Team” nickname, pasting a supposedly good New Orleans Saints team, 38-17, on NBC’s spotlight Sunday evening game. The shock of the outcome no doubt is still reverberating through the league, and among Twitter-holics.
As always, Nielsen provides plenty of caveats to accompany its numbers. Here’s what they say:
Nielsen Social captures relevant Tweets from three hours before, during and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, local time. Unique Audience measures the audience of relevant Tweets ascribed to an episode from when the Tweets were 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, denoted with an asterisk.