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Fall TV Update: Five Social-TV Success Stories (and One Ratings Disappointment)

Fox Takes Three of the Top Spots in our New-Show Social-Buzz Ranking

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Zooey Deschanel in Fox's 'New Girl,' which returned this week but seemed to suffer from its hiatus.
Zooey Deschanel in Fox's 'New Girl,' which returned this week but seemed to suffer from its hiatus. Credit: Fox

Somehow it's November already, which means the fall TV season is at its midway point. To take stock, we decided to look at some notable new shows through the prism of social-media response. And so Ad Age asked our editorial partner Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge-Mass.-based social-media analytics company that specializes in social TV, to identify the five new series across broadcast and cable TV with the highest social buzz per episode (primarily on Twitter and Facebook) so far this fall. Some notes about the chart below:

  • Fox's "The X Factor" is No. 1 among new series, with an average of 94,000 social comments per episode as recorded by Bluefin. It hasn't been the "American Idol"-killer that Simon Cowell obviously hoped it would be, but it's turned out to be a very solid hit for Fox. In fact, it's helping boost other shows on the network. See this report today from Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd: "'Bones' returns bigger thanks to 'X Factor.'"
  • One of the shows in our Top 5, BET's "Born to Dance: Laurieann Gibson," technically started in August, and had only an eight-episode run. But that short run definitely helped it, because finales of hit reality competitions pretty much always drive up social-media response as fans go Twitter-crazy. (In fact, if it were later in the season, the show would likely have been crowed out of our Top 5 because the finales of all kinds of shows tend to drive up social-media response.) Laurieann Gibson is Lady Gaga's creative director, and it surely also helped that the Lady herself had a major presence in the finale. Another factor feeding into the outsize social footprint of "Born to Dance": BET's audience is among the most social-media savvy of any network's (memes originating on BET shows hit Twitter's trending topics list all the time).
  • The Zooey Deschanel sitcom "New Girl" was an early ratings and social-buzz success story for Fox -- but then Fox had to go and screw things up for poor Zooey by putting the show on a four-week hiatus to make room for the World Series. There's still an enormous amount of goodwill surrounding "New Girl," but all its fans didn't seem to get the word that it was back on the air this week: Its ratings dropped 19% vs. its previous episode, which aired on Oct. 4.
  • This week the ratings of the Steven Spielberg-produced dinosaur time-travel drama "Terra Nova" got doubly dinged: its episode on Monday came after a one-week baseball-imposed hiatus and also fell on Halloween (traditionally not a huge night for TV-watching). It's not a surprise that it has a sizable social-media footprint -- it is , after all, a Steven Spielberg-produced dinosaur time-travel drama -- but this should have been a bigger ratings hit for Fox given its cost. And arguably its social-media popularity should be higher too, given that its buzz is actually lower than that of a newer, and much more niche-y, show, the suffocatingly dark and perverse "American Horror Story," which is on track to be FX's highest-rated first-season show ever.

Stay tuned to for more data from Bluefin Labs.

For more about Bluefin, visit their website.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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