Original series on cable and Netflix may be all the rage, but make no mistake: Broadcast TV content is alive and well, though it helps to have a major star actively hyping their shows on Twitter.
Those are some of the key insights from Adobe Digital Index’s (ADI) analysis of the upcoming fall TV season premieres. The number crunching also shows that “Scream Queens,” a “horror comedy” set to air on Fox, is so far the show with the most social-media buzz, and that reality TV is a great place for time-sensitive advertising.
ADI used Adobe Social to look at more than 20 million social engagements (mentions, page likes, and followers) from blogs, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, Dailymotion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Foursquare, Metacafe, WordPress, and YouTube to determine the shows with the biggest chance of a big premiere Though the group analyzed several social media networks, it viewed Twitter as the primary venue since the broadcast TV networks are in the habit of promoting their shows with hashtags.
Perhaps that’s why broadcast TV shows garner a lot more buzz than their Netflix and HBO counterparts. The same goes for the big screen.
For instance, “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS” have 10 million more likes on Facebook than two summer blockbusters–“Jurassic World” and “The Avengers”–combined. Those shows also dwarf the social-media followings for much-hyped shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” on Netflix and “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” on HBO.
The takeaway for marketers? “Don’t get too carried away with all the bling of what’s going on with ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ because top rated broadcast television is still creating more social-media followers, and, by inference, we’re assuming that’s translating into viewership,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for ADI.
Judging by social-media buzz, the show with the biggest premiere potential among the fall shows will be “Scream Queens.” The show has so far garnered 110,000 followers on Twitter, 320,000 fans on Facebook, and its YouTube trailer has received about 4.5 million views.
Fox’s active global promotion seems to have helped. The network has released character briefs on YouTube and other social networks to feed the buzz. The promotion also didn’t just focus on the U.S. Some 65% of the show’s global buzz was from outside the U.S., which was higher than any other shows in the top five. “Scream Queens’” 500,000 social mentions put it head and shoulders above the competition.
Coming in second for social buzz is “Heroes Reborn,” on NBC, which has a combined Twitter and Facebook following of 6.7 million. The YouTube trailer for the show has also garnered 6.7 million views. In total, it has received 150,000 social mentions.
Rounding out the top five: CBS’s “Supergirl” (150,000 social mentions), ABC’s “Quantico” (76,000), and ABC’s “The Muppets” (25,000), which has come on strong during September promotions and after the Kermit and Miss Piggy split was announced.
The Cable-ization Of Broadcast
In a fractured media environment, the broadcast networks have become more focused on niches, especially with regard to social followings, ADI analysis revealed. Fox, home of “The Family Guy” and “The Simpsons,” is now known for its animation. ABC, known for “Grey’s Anatomy,” is the drama network. NBC (“The Voice”) is the reality king. CBS (“The Big Bang Theory”) is the place for live-action comedy, and CW (“The Vampire Diaries”) has latched on to fantasy and the superhero craze.
ADI analyst Joe Martin said knowing that can inform an advertising strategy. “Just based on these social followings, it can give you some direction of who’s watching your channel and what they’re going there for,” he said.
ADI also compared two reality TV shows–“The Bachelorette“ and “So You Think You Can Dance“–to see how social mentions differed from scripted shows. The episodic shows–“Game of Thrones,” “Walking Dead,” “NCIS,” “Daredevil,” and “Ballers”–all had a steady increase in social mentions over time, averaging about 10,000 a day. The reality shows spiked the nights they aired and then went way down.
“That shows an opportunity for advertisers that want to grasp on to people who are watching these reality shows live,” Martin said, noting that the data shows people are less likely to DVR reality shows and more likely to time-shift their viewing of episodic. “You probably want to catch people with impulse opportunities or time-sensitive content like sales. [Conversely], if you say, ‘We have a sale that ends Friday,’ someone may not get to that scripted content until Saturday and the advertising is wasted.”
Tweeting Stars Make A Big Difference
Entertainment execs have known for a while that getting a star with a big Twitter following can greatly help buzz for a property. However, just getting the star isn’t enough; he or she has to also work hard to promote the property.
For example, Neal Patrick Harris has 14 million Twitter followers, making him one of the most-followed actors in Hollywood. Harris is the host of reality show “Best Time Ever,” but, as Martin noted, “He’s didn’t heavily promote the show until recently” which has had only about 4,000 mentions on Twitter this summer. “It’s not just enough to get that heavily followed actor,” Martin said. “You need them to promote your show and really activate that fan base.”
Comparatively, Priyanka Chopra, one of the highest-paid actresses in Bollywood, has about 26 million social-media followers between Twitter and Facebook and has worked hard to promote her U.S. TV show, “Quantico.” “She’s getting out tweets and posts about ‘Quantico’ daily,” Martin said. Quantico has 76,000 summer mentions, which is five times the average show promoted by its lead.
Historically, ADI saw this phenomenon with “San Andreas,” a May movie release. The film was trending to be a money loser, according to ADI, until five days before the release, when star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stepped in to heavily promote the film to his 9.2 million Twitter fans and 51 million Facebook fans. The effort gave the film a respectable $53.2 million opening weekend. “The mentions just skyrocketed as he activated his fan base,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, if you’re bringing back an old, beloved property, a PR stunt couldn’t hurt. For instance, “The Muppets” has been off the air since 1980 but is returning this fall and needed an event to spark social-media conversations.
That led to the Aug. 4 announcement of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy’s “breakup,” which prompted 80,000 mentions–a 1,000-fold increase in discussion about the fall show. Of course, not everyone was happy; sentiment analysis showed 58% of social mentions evoked sadness. (Five percent evoked joy–go figure.)
“It’s definitely going to give them a good shot for people to re-engage with that brand,” Martin said.
Broadcast Execs Are Learning
Overall, the buzz this year is bigger than that for the 2014-2015 season, in which 75% of that season’s shows garnered less than 100 mentions per day in social media.
ADI analysis shows that social-media mentions around fall premieres has jumped 400%, on average, when compared with June-to-August mentions of 2014’s fall premieres. “It looks like we’re doing a lot better as marketers in terms of pushing the content,” Martin said.
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