The Howard Stern Effect: What the Shock Jock Has Done for 'America's Got Talent'

Trendrr Takes a Look at Year-Over-Year Growth in Social Buzz

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"America's Got Talent" on NBC has generated a huge increase in social chatter since last year -- more than any other prime-time show returning for a new season in May.

The big change in the show's positioning this season vs. last is , of course, the conspicuous addition of Howard Stern as a judge. This week we worked with our editorial partner Trendrr, the social-media monitoring firm, to dissect the Howard Stern Effect.

Scroll down below the graphic for some notes and context.

  • Trendrr compared last year's "AGT" buzz (Season 6) to this year's and then factored out non-Howard-related factors (e.g., the overall growth of the Social TV phenomenon, the addition this year of Viggle check-ins into Trendrr Social Activity scores, etc.). This isn't an exact science, of course, but given that the show's format remains the same and the other two judges from last year -- Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne -- came back again this year, Trendrr's estimate of the social-media bump that can be attributed to Howard Stern is 123%.
  • Take a look at the EKGs in the lower portion of our graphic. It appears that a lot of male Howard Stern fans tuned in to the show and took to social media to express their opinions (mostly on Twitter) about the Stern-ified "AGT," but as the season progressed they've been dropping off. My theory is that maybe they were hoping for an "AGT" that was as ribald as Stern's radio show -- but prime-time TV being prime-time TV, that 's never going to happen. And in fact, as I noted earlier this month, the version of Howard seen on "AGT" is remarkably sweet (which is kind of weird, but for the record I personally like Howard Stern in his new role as a kindly, supportive judge).
  • But what about the ratings ? "AGT" is a mature franchise and isn't exactly triumphing over its past seasons -- few TV series are these days, given broad declines in TV viewership overall -- but it's doing great against its direct competition this year, according to Nielsen. This past Monday's episode, for instance, drew 10.45 million viewers, winning the night and almost doubling the ratings of the No. 2 and No. 3 shows in the same time slot, Fox's "MasterChef" and CBS's "Two and a Half Men," which each drew 5.32 million. And NBC has been busy churning out press releases with titles like "NBC'S 'AMERICA'S GOT TALENT' RANKS #1 AMONG NON-SPORTS PRIME TELECASTS FOR A FOURTH WEEK IN A ROW" -- so, you know, go Howard!

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital company behind Trendrr.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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