Published on Dec 7th, 2015
by Marc Berman
Ten weeks into the current TV season (through Nov. 30), Fox’s Scream Queens demonstrates the growing importance of social media. The Ryan Murphy dramedy tops the broadcast network newbies with more than 12.8 million total actions (post-level likes, shares, favorites, retweets and comments) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Taking a page from ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars —a strong social performer with nearly 28 million social actions this Fall in spite of airing in the Summer and Winter—the social success of Scream Queens is a result of the characters, the college setting, and a meaty murder mystery that millennials like to talk about. If Fox does issue a second season renewal to Scream Queens, the definition of a hit or a miss at present will only widen to include social media.
Scream Queens generated 66% of its overall engagement during the Fall TV season on Instagram in spite of only posting 12% of its content to the photo sharing platform. Six of Scream Queens’ 10 most-engaged posts, including its top post, featured a celebrity in singer Ariana Grande, who appeared in four episodes of the show. But Grande was only mentioned in two posts, indicating that her 51.1 million Instagram followers were at the very least interacting with Scream Queens on social and perhaps also watching the show.
Scream Queens ranks third overall for the season among all television series (behind AMC’s The Walking Dead, which is in a true class of its own with near 42.1 million total actions, and Fox’s sophomore Empire). And Scream Queens’ advantage over the No. 2 freshman network entry, The Muppets on ABC (1.1 million), places it in a class of its own.
The Muppets, which received an order for three additional episodes (over the initial 13), proves there could be potential value in reviving a classic series.
Unlike Scream Queens, The Muppets found more success on Facebook. It generated more than 86% of total actions on Facebook yet only posted 28% of all content there during the Fall TV season. The Muppets recorded its most engagement in September, not a surprise given that it premiered Sept. 22.
The Muppets generated a vast majority of its engagement with social video . Of its September Facebook posts, 69% were videos and they generated 85% of the show’s total actions that month. Nine of The Muppets’ 10 top posts in September were videos and many included the show’s premiere date. The most-engaged post of the month (and year) appealed to the show’s target demographic: adults.
Rounding out the Top 5 in social media, third-place Supergirl on CBS, which will air 20 episodes in season one, brings social value to a network known for traditionally attracting an older audience. Fourth-place Blindspot on NBC earned its stripes as the first new network series renewed for 2016-17. Lead-in does matter and airing out of The Voice has been beneficial. Fifth-place Heroes Reborn, another revival on NBC, justifies its return after being prematurely canceled in the winter of 2010.
Overall, ABC, NBC and Fox are home to three of the Top 10 shows each (see the top chart). This includes ABC dramas Blood & Oil and Quantico; NBC’s Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, which concluded season one on Nov. 3; and Fox’s Grandfathered and Rosewood. While not every new series is a candidate for a second season, social interest could ultimately warrant additional episodes.
Based on the traditional Nielsen ratings, CBS, the most-watched network, is already a lock for full season victory in total viewers. And the home of Sunday Night Football, NBC, is tops in adults 18-49. But, mirroring last season, both networks will have to deal with life outside of top-rated football in first-quarter 2016.
Overall, the five broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW—are averaging 39.66 million viewers season to-date. Given the increased fragmentation and more competitive options (more than 400 scripted series in total—a record—are vying for an audience across all content platforms), minor erosion of this magnitude is no cause of immediate concern.
Nielsen Ratings (Live+7; Live+3 for most current two weeks)
September 21 – November 30
(Percent Change Versus the Comparable Year-Ago Period is in Parentheses)
CBS: 11.78 million (-3), NBC: 9.97 (no change), ABC: 8.04 (-12), Fox: 6.35 (+ 1), CW: 1.95 (-10)
NBC: 2.9 rating/10 share (- 3), CBS: 2.5/ 8 (- 4), ABC: 2.2/ 6 (-12), Fox: 2.1/ 7 (no change), CW: 0.8/ 3 (-11)
Source: Nielsen Media Research
Marc Berman is Editor-in-Chief of TV Media Insights.