Friday, September 19, 2014

Did Social Media Affect Rookie Cancellations?

The slaughter of the rookie television series on the major broadcast networks is always rough… there usually aren't too many surprises, but many people cross fingers for something that doesn't make the cut. More than ever, the market share isn’t accounting for the actual popularity of a program, between delayed viewing, internet viewing, and illegal downloading/streaming, to name a few alternatives. The latest ratings technology is trying hard to account for these things, but it has been speculated (and even admitted in some cases) that social media has been playing a larger factor. PR departments have actors live-tweet alongside episode airings, networks post on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram how things are going on the set, and some series even have accounts on such websites as Pinterest these days.
All of this led me to be interested in how the social media popularity of the new 2013-2014 shows correlated with their respective cancellations and renewals. After all, with the new pilot season upon us, I'd love to have more renewal prediction tools available! So, I looked up all of last season's Facebook Likes, though this is a flawed system. First, Like numbers have changed since the fate of the shows was announced - people have dropped following shows with no futures and jumped on bandwagons for those that do. Two, it doesn't account for the interaction on these shows - just because a page has a lot of Likes doesn't mean those folks are actively engaged with the Page. That said, the below counts are current as of 8/14/14, and are shown in descending order, with comedies and dramas in separate lists. The networks renewed blue shows and canceled red ones.


Super Fun Night (ABC Comedy): 332,987 likes
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX Comedy): 300,545 likes
The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC Comedy): 274,448 likes
The Goldbergs (ABC Comedy): 241,529 likes
Dads (FOX Comedy): 126,785 likes
About a Boy (NBC Comedy): 126,624 likes
Mom (CBS Comedy): 121,080 likes
The Crazy Ones (CBS Comedy): 117,236 likes
Sean Saves the World (NBC Comedy): 106,069 likes
Mixology (ABC Comedy): 103,257 likes
Surviving Jack (FOX Comedy): 103,103 likes
Enlisted (FOX Comedy): 71,481 likes
Trophy Wife (ABC Comedy): 70,522 likes
Growing Up Fisher (NBC Comedy): 63,564 likes
The Millers (CBS Comedy): 61,076 likes
Undateable (NBC Comedy): 59,952 likes
Welcome to the Family (NBC Comedy): 54,704 likes
Friends with Better Lives (CBS Comedy): 48,611 likes
Back in the Game (ABC Comedy): 41,281 likes
We Are Men (CBS Comedy): 7,229 likes
Murder Police (unaired FOX Comedy): 731 likes
Us and Them (unaired FOX Comedy): 0 likes - I don't believe a Facebook page exists.

The Originals (CW Drama): 5,304,230 likes
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC Drama): 3,889,806 likes
Sleepy Hollow (FOX Drama): 1,502,482 likes
The Blacklist
(NBC Drama): 1,226,668 likes
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC Drama): 1,139,105 likes
Dracula (NBC Drama): 865,459 likes 
Chicago PD (NBC Drama): 771,687 likes
The Tomorrow People (CW Drama): 696,126 likes
Reign (CW Drama): 681,041 likes
The Resurrection (ABC Drama): 537,134 likes
Believe (NBC Drama): 533,560 likes
Almost Human (FOX Drama): 472,236 likes
The 100 (CW Drama): 444,959 likes
Star-Crossed (CW Drama): 295,203 likes
Intelligence (CBS Drama): 230,012 likes
Betrayal (ABC Drama): 195,527 likes 
Gang Related (FOX Drama): 195,157 like
The Night Shift (NBC Drama): 121,866 likes
Hostages (CBS Drama): 111,322 likes
Crisis (NBC Drama): 102,275 likes
Ironside (NBC Drama): 81,121 likes 
Crossbones (NBC Drama): 54,503 likes 
Rake (FOX Drama): 37,806 likes
Killer Women (ABC Drama): 34,044 likes
Mind Games
(ABC Drama): 31,732 likes
Reckless (CBS Drama): 11,580 likes (fate not yet officially announced)
Lucky 7 (ABC Drama): 9,074 likes

So, what does this all mean? There is a correlation for the most part, but you can't bet on these things just from Facebook Likes. The highest-liked comedy of the year was Super Fun Night by 30,000+ fans, but it wasn't renewed. Similarly, The Michael J. Fox Show and Dads had more Likes than FOUR of the six comedies that the networks renewed. That one is probably easy to explain, though: both had very likeable, famous people attached (Michael J. Fox and Seth MacFarland, respectively), so there was likely an initial rally behind the series, but fans just didn't bother to "unlike" the Pages when the shows tanked. Plus The Millers only had about half the Likes of the next-renewed comedy.

In dramas, the CW renewed its top four Liked programs. Over on NBC, The Night Shift has more than 300,000 fewer Likes than the next-closest renewed drama, but it didn't air during the peak season, so it had less competition. The most-Liked canceled FOX show (Almost Human) has 150,000+ more Likes than their only renewed comedy (Brooklyn Nine-Nine).  Actually, I was surprised by how many fewer Facebook fans of comedy there are than of dramas!

The bottom line? You can't make educated guesses across the board based on Facebook Like numbers, though there is still plenty of interesting information there! (Did you see how many Likes The Originals has?!?)
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