‘Lost’ Leads Viewer Engagement

May 19, 2010

The ABC supernatural drama “Lost” leads all TV shows in viewer engagement between February and April 2010, according to social media analytics company Networked Insights.

Online Buzz Doesn’t Always Match Viewership

Networked Insights’ “SocialSense TV” report analyzes online conversations around the top 75 TV shows ranked by The Nielsen Company to create a list of the top 20 according to the online buzz they generate.


The new metric creates a new order: more than half the shows in the SocialSenseTV Top 20 don’t crack Nielsen’s top 20 listing. Generally, shows that rank high in social media interest but comparatively low in Nielsen ratings provide tremendous value, because their ad inventory is likely less expensive, according to Networked Insights.

‘Lost, ‘American Idol,’ ‘Glee’ Generate Most Buzz
According to the report, “Lost” is the top show in terms of viewer engagement (ranked #10 by Nielsen), followed by “American Idol” (#1), “Glee” (#4), “The Simpsons” (#44) and “Heroes” (unranked).

Rounding out the top 20 shows (Nielsen rank, where applicable, in parenthesis):

  • “Dancing with the Stars” (3)
  • “House” (20)
  • “CSI: Miami” (24)
  • “Saturday Night Live”
  • “30 Rock” (35)
  • “Cold Case”
  • “Family Guy” (40)
  • “The Office” (25)
  • “Bones” (27)
  • “NCIS: Los Angeles” (18)
  • “So You Think You Can Dance”
  • “Chuck”
  • “CSI” (11)
  • “Survivor” (13)
  • “How I Met Your Mother”

“Programming has changed significantly during the last 30 years and with it the way audience engagement is measured,” said Dan Neely, CEO of Networked Insights. “At the height of ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends,’ audience engagement was measured by Friday morning water cooler chat. Today, much of the viewing, sharing and talking about TV is moving online, which means industry executives need to listen to the social conversation to understand why a show is popular, which shows are a good match for a brand and, ultimately, where to buy or sell TV inventory.”

“Lost,” for example, ranked #1 in audience chatter, but the show is ranked #10 by Nielsen. Based on Networked Insights data, the show averages 131.4 million interactions (posts and reads) per month. The #2 show on the SocialSenseTV Ratings (and #1 show ranked by Nielsen), “American Idol,” averages 126.5 million interactions per month. But conversation is high throughout: the 20th-ranked show on the list, “How I Met Your Mother,” which was not included in the Nielsen list of the top 75 TV shows, still averages more than 320,000 interactions per month.

Network Ratings Also Change
In addition to providing different ratings of TV shows, the SocialSenseTV report also provides different ratings of TV networks. Going by the Nielsen top 20 TV show ratings, CBS is the clear winner with 10 of the top 20 shows. ABC and Fox have five each and the other major network, NBC, has none. However, measuring the top 20 shows by viewer engagement, Fox has seven, CBS has six, and NBC has five. ABC comes in last with only two of the top 20 buzz-generating shows.


TV Ad Revenues Drop 21%
The TV ad market declined 21.2%, from $52 billion to $41 billion, between 2008 and 2009, according to data from The Yankee Group. This was significantly more than the 4% (or roughly $2.1 billion) decline The Yankee Group originally forecast in June 2009. A shift in consumer attention to the internet primarily drove the steep decline in the TV ad market.

About the Data: The May 2010 SocialSenseTV Network Ratings report is compiled after monitoring billions of interactions from millions of blogs, forums and other sources between February 1 and April 25, 2010 via Networked Insights’ new SocialSenseTV listening platform.

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