Social-TV Scorecard: See the Fall's Most Buzzed-About Season Premieres

Returning Series Get the Most Traction in Social Media

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Our editorial partner Bluefin Labs, the Cambridge-Mass.-based social-TV analytics company, has been closely monitoring buzz surrounding the fall's new and returning TV shows. Click on the graphic to enlarge.

Some notes and context:

2012 Season Premieres

Click to enlarge

  • For this infographic, Bluefin analyzed data for 66 returning shows and 20 new shows from the start of the fall TV season on Sept. 10. All data is for the premiere episode only.
  • "Returning shows dominate new shows in terms of commentary volume," says Bluefin's Tom Thai. "Notice that the Top 5 returning shows -- led by 'The X Factor' at 1.4 million comments for its premiere -- have much higher social-commentary volume than the Top 5 new shows. So there definitely hasn't been a breakout social-TV hit among the new shows."
  • Thai also points out that the top returning shows all showed season-over-season growth. And AMC's "The Walking Dead," which returned on Oct. 14, is the clear stand-out. "For sure, social TV is a rapidly-growing consumer behavior," says Thai, "but to see 2,000%-plus season-over-season growth for any show is still really notable." The social buzz for "Dead" presaged blockbuster ratings : As The Hollywood Reporter's Lesley Goldberg would note the next day, the Season 3 premiere "collected a whopping 10.9 million total viewers, making it the highest-rated episode in series history, up more than 50 percent from its record-breaking Season 2 premiere. The episode now stands as the biggest telecast for any drama series in basic cable history among total viewers."
  • This is interesting: "For 4 out of the Top 5 returning shows, the social commenters skewed heavily female," says Bluefin's Thai. "Among the Top 5, only 'The Walking Dead' had decent representation from men."
  • On Oct. 10, ABC's "Nashville" had the most social premiere of all of fall's freshmen shows, according to Bluefin data. The next day, Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd, who called it "the best-reviewed new drama of the fall," noted that it "premiered to solid ratings " while "smothering" the competition over on NBC, "Chicago Fire," Bluefin's fourth most buzzed-about new show. Oct. 10 was also the day that The CW's "Arrow" (No. 3 most buzzed-about) premiered; Hibberd noted that it was "The CW's most-watched series debut in total viewers since 'The Vampire Diaries' in 2009." Complicating matters for "Nashville" (which has slipped considerably in the ratings since its premiere) and "Chicago Fire" (which actually inched up a bit this week) is the fact that they're both up against ratings juggernaut "CSI" over on CBS in the 10 p.m. ET timeslot -- and Game One of the World Series over on Fox this past Wednesday. The game also overlapped with "Arrow" (which slipped a bit in the ratings too) in its 8 p.m. ET timeslot.
  • NBC has already given a full-season order to "Revolution," the No. 2 most buzzed-about freshmen show. Huffington Post TV critic Maureen Ryan has a smart take on the show that some critics had predicted would run out of steam pretty quickly: "Why 'Revolution' Is A Ratings Hit (And Why It Still Has a Problem)." As for the No. 5 most-buzzed-about new-show premiere, "666 Park Avenue" has been struggling, with ratings slipping each week -- but, as TV Line's Michael Ausiello notes, this past Sunday it "rebounded 20% in the 18-49 [demo] (to a 1.8) and inched up 2% in total audience (to just under 5 million)." So it might be a bit premature to write it off.

Stay tuned to for more data from Bluefin Labs. For more about Bluefin, visit its website.

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

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