Not long after Ashton Kutcher debuted as Charlie Sheen's replacement on "Two and a Half Men" last month, garnering not only huge ratings but a dramatic rise in social-media chatter surrounding the show, we asked "Is Ashton Kutcher's Massive 'Social TV' Effect on 'Two and a Half Men' Sustainable?"
The answer -- probably not -- was pretty implicit in the piece, because many people had clearly tuned into the season premiere mostly just to pass judgment on the new guy (and to tweet about it). Then again, it seemed that Kutcher's well-established social-media footprint could inspire a generally higher level of social chatter about the new "Two and a Half Men." Kutcher was famously the first Twitter account holder to amass 1 million followers -- at a time when Charlie Sheen wasn't even on Twitter -- and recently topped 8 million.
As a follow-up, Ad Age asked its editorial partner Bluefin Labs, a social-media analysis company specializing in social TV, to look at social chatter (primarily on Twitter and Facebook) surrounding the first five episodes of "Two and a Half Men" -- but also CBS's second-most-buzzed-about sitcom, "How I Met Your Mother " (for an in-network comparison), plus the most socially buzzed-about shows on ABC ("Modern Family"), NBC ("Parks and Recreation") and Fox ("New Girl") as well. Because these shows have aired differing numbers of original episodes this fall (as many as five and as few as three), we're showing you episode-specific social chatter rather than season averages so far.
Some notes about the chart below:
- The bottom line is that social buzz about "Two and a Half Men" has dropped dramatically since the season premiere -- no big surprise there. But what's interesting is that it's been falling behind more broadly ensemble-driven shows including "Parks and Rec" and "Modern Family." I should note that Bluefin filters out comments that aren't specifically related to the airing of a given show. So, for instance, the gossip surrounding Ashton Kutcher's reported marital problems doesn't factor into the social buzz for "Two and a Half Men" as graphed below.
- Some analysis worth reading from New York Daily News TV critic David Hinckley: "'Two and a Half Men' ratings continue to fall: CBS sitcom still brings in 14.85 million viewers." Note, though, that the Kutcher-era "Two and a Half Men" is still the most-watched sitcom on TV and it's still doing better than the last season of the Sheen version of the show.
- Bluefin's Tom Thai tells me that "Based on last season's social-TV data, we see the general dynamic that the season premiere episode of almost every series starts off high. In subsequent weeks following the season premiere, social-TV activity tends to settle in to mid-season levels. For most shows, we see the social-TV activity build back up as we head toward the season finale. The trend lines for the season roughly have a 'V' shape."
- Thai also tells me that Fox's "New Girl" retaining so much of its first-week social activity in its second and third weeks is a "pretty rare" phenomenon for any show. He notes that "New Girl" has been on hiatus in recent weeks due to the Major League Baseball playoffs airing on Fox, "so it'll be interesting to look at the social-TV activity again when 'New Girl' is back on the air in November after a month-long break." Is Fox inspiring pent-up demand? Or will early fans of the show have lost interest by next month? Stay tuned.
Stay tuned to AdAge.com 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.