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Charlie's Angels and Facebook - Will Social Media Launch New TV Shows?

Brian Cantor

The dawn of another television season is upon us, and so represents another opportunity to raise awareness for new network television series.

It also represents an interesting inquiry into how well a successful social media campaign can translate into offline business success.

As with recent seasons, networks are again using digital means to build anticipation ahead of the upcoming series premieres, many of which take place this September.

ABC recently made the script of its "Revenge" pilot available as a free download for Kindle users. FOX is giving viewers a complimentary screening of its "New Girl" comedy pilot across channels like iTunes and Hulu. All networks, of course, have used avenues like YouTube and Facebook to offer teaser footage and commentary for their slate of new shows.

The strategy makes sense in theory. Network television advertisers place the most value on viewership in the adults 18-49 demographic (women 18-34 in the case of The CW), and social media represents a clear pathway to young audiences. Social campaigns can also be strategized to garner customer loyalty and advocacy; if networks can impress audiences over social media, they can hopefully convert these users into regular viewers, who tune into the television show weekly and deliver positive word-of-mouth to friends.

At the same time, campaigns built around online communities and episode streams showcase the power of alternatives to traditional television viewing. While ongoing improvements in how online viewing is tracked will continually help networks feel more confident about capturing appropriate advertiser spend, broadcasters still want to glue eyeballs to their physical television sets.

As would be expected, none of the new shows has cultivated a social fanbase of a magnitude that, numerically, will provide a make-or-break impact. A "Like" on Facebook is a personal endorsement of a product or brand, and many will not offer that until they truly know whether they like the show. Shows that should have no trouble debuting to an audience of ten million viewers currently have less than (sometimes dramatically less than) 100,000 Facebook fans.

Still, since a show’s relative social performance would be positively impacted by online buzz and an effective digital campaign, a social media advocate would have to believe that social media fanbase will be of value in predicting viewership. Of course this will not be perfect—shows on CBS will attract broader audiences than those on CW, regardless of social fanbase—but anyone who believes there is a serious connection between offline and online fanbases has to expect some viewership correlation.

Before the shows air and subject themselves to ratings tracking from the famous Nielsen Media Research, it is interesting to see which shows have cultivated the most social support and then see how that fandom translates into performance in key viewership metrics. Social statistics for the major new broadcast series, effective 3PM ET on September 6, are below:

(Note – Only those shows debuting in the "first wave" of fall programming are included)

ABC Series
Pan Am
Timeslot: Sunday, 10PM
Lead-In: Desperate Housewives
Competition: Sunday Night Football (NBC), CSI: Miami (CBS)
Hook: Retro concept, Soap/mystery elements
Facebook Likes: 71,151
Twitter Followers: 2,111

Last Man Standing
Timeslot: Tuesday, 8PM
Lead-In: Local programming
Competition: NCIS (CBS), Glee (FOX), 90210 (The CW), The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Hook: Tim Allen’s return to broadcast, No other "sitcom" in slot
Facebook Likes: 2,941
Twitter Followers: 120

Man Up
Timeslot: Tuesday, 8:30PM
Lead-In: Last Man Standing
Competition: NCIS (CBS), Glee (FOX), 90210 (The CW), The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Hook: No other "sitcom" in slot, Compatibility with Last Man Standing
Facebook Likes: 1,722
Twitter Followers: 99

Timeslot: Wednesday, 8:30PM
Lead-In: The Middle
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Survivor (CBS), H8R (CW), Free agents (NBC)
Hook: Compatibility with The Middle and lead-out Modern Family, Quirky comedy
Facebook Likes: 30,737
Twitter: 259

Timeslot: Wednesday, 10PM
Lead-In: Happy Endings
Competition: CSI (CBS), Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Hook: Mystery/drama concept, Fresh show against aging veterans
Facebook Likes: 92,794
Twitter: 645

Charlie’s Angels
Timeslot: Thursday, 8PM
Lead-In: Local Programming
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), The Big Bang Theory/How to Be a Gentlemen (CBS), Community/Parks & Recreation (NBC), The Vampire Diaries (CW)
Hook: Nostalgia, sex appeal, female empowerment, Compatibility with Grey’s Anatomy
Facebook Likes: 94,864
Twitter: 1199

Two Broke Girls
Timeslot: Monday, 8:30PM
Lead-In: How I Met Your Mother
Competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Terra Nova (FOX), The Sing-Off (NBC), Gossip Girl (The CW)
Hook: Female-fronted comedy, Compatibility with CBS comedy lineup, Only "sitcom" in slot
Facebook Likes: 7,675
Twitter: 917

Timeslot: Tuesday, 10PM
Lead-In: NCIS: LA
Competition: Body of Proof (ABC), Parenthood (NBC)
Hook: Crime procedural, Mystery/suspense concept
Facebook Likes: 2,041
Twitter: 281

How to Be a Gentleman
Timeslot: Thursday, 8:30PM
Lead-In: The Big Bang Theory
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Charlie’s Angels (ABC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), The Vampire Diaries (CW)
Hook: Male-fronted comedy, Traditional sitcom alternative to "Parks," Compatibility with Big Bang Theory
Facebook Likes: 892
Twitter: 247

Person of Interest
Timeslot: Thursday, 9PM
Lead-In: How to be a Gentleman
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), The Office/Whitney (NBC), The Secret Circle (CW)
Hook: High-profile crime procedural, JJ Abrams (Lost) involvement
Facebook Likes: 6,266
Twitter: 566

A Gifted Man
Timeslot: Friday, 8PM
Lead-In: Local programming
Competition: Extreme Makeover: HE (ABC), Kitchen Nightmares (FOX), Chuck (NBC), Nikita (CW)
Hook: Medical drama, Supernatural elements
Facebook Likes: 3,362
Twitter: 244

Terra Nova
Timeslot: Monday, 8PM
Lead-In: Local programming
Competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), How I Met Your Mother/2 Broke Girls (CBS), The Sing-Off (NBC), Gossip Girl (The CW)
Hook: Years of hype, Steven Spielberg involvement, Cinema-like concept
Facebook Likes: 11,820
Twitter: 3,098

New Girl
Timeslot: Tuesday, 9PM
Lead-In: Glee
Competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), NCIS: LA (CBS), Biggest Loser (NBC), Ringer (CW)
Hook: Only comedy in timeslot, Quirky comedy (star Zooey Deschanel’s target), Female-fronted comedy, Compatibility with lead-out Raising Hope
Facebook Likes: 41,628
Twitter: 11,409

The X-Factor
Timeslot: Wednesday, 8PM; Thursday 8PM
Lead-In: Local programming
Competition (weds): Survivor/Criminal Minds (CBS), The Middle/Suburgatory/Modern Family/Happy Endings (ABC), Up All Night/Free Agents/Harry’s Law (NBC), H8R/America’s Next Top Model (CW)
Competition (thurs): Charlie’s Angels/Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), The Big Bang Theory/How to be a Gentleman/Person of Interest (CBS), Community/Parks and Recreation/The Office/Whitney (NBC), The Vampire Diaries/The Secret Circle (CW)
Hook: Fall version of American Idol, Simon Cowell’s return to television, FOX’s fall flagship
Facebook Likes: 77,578 (data possibly skewed due to existence of UK page, which has 3,000,000 followers)
Twitter: 55,275

The Playboy Club
Timeslot: Monday, 10PM
Lead-In: The Sing-Off
Competition: Castle (ABC), Hawaii 5-0 (CBS)
Hook: Controversy over Playboy brand, Sex appeal, Retro concept, Soap/Mystery elements
Facebook Likes: 63,901
Twitter: 3,410

Up All Night
Timeslot: Wednesday, 8PM
Lead-In: Local programming
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Survivor (CBS), The Middle (ABC), H8R (The CW)
Hook: Cast (Will Arnett and Christina Applegate), Parenting comedy
Facebook Likes: 41,917
Twitter: 1,915

Free Agents
Timeslot: Wednesday, 8:30PM
Lead-In: Up All Night
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Survivor (CBS), Suburgatory (ABC), H8R (The CW)
Hook: Cast (Hank Azaria), Alternative comedy to Suburgatory, Compatibility with Up All Night
Facebook Likes: 4,557
Twitter: 645

Timeslot: Thursday, 9:30PM
Lead-In: The Office
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Person of Interest (CBS), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), The Secret Circle (The CW)
Hook: Female-fronted comedy, Whitney Cummings as breakout, Only comedy in slot (and it follows The Office)
Facebook Likes: 43,678
Twitter: 1,676

Prime Suspect
Timeslot: Thursday, 10PM
Lead-In: Whitney
Competition: The Mentalist (CBS), Private Practice (ABC)
Hook: Crime procedural, Re-imagining of long-running British series, Movie actress (Maria Bello) on a TV series
Facebook Likes: 13,757
Twitter: 626

Timeslot: Friday, 9PM
Lead-In: Chuck
Competition: CSI: NY (CBS), Extreme Makeover: HE (ABC), Fringe (FOX), Supernatural (The CW)
Hook: Fairytale Elements, Procedural
Facebook Likes: 8,151
Twitter: 1,594
*Note – While Dateline will actually occupy the timeslot in the "first wave," Grimm counts as an initial fall launch because the "real" NBC Friday lineup doesn’t start until it debuts alongside Chuck in October. It will not be slipping into a fully-established timeslot.

The CW
Hart of Dixie
Timeslot: Monday, 9PM
Lead-In: Gossip Girl
Competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Two and a Half Men/Mike & Molly (CBS), House (FOX), The Sing-Off (NBC)
Hook: Young-female-skewing alternative, Star Rachel Bilson’s rapport with target demo (from The OC)
Facebook Likes: 15,373
Twitter: (No Separate Show Page on Twitter)

Timeslot: Tuesday, 9PM
Lead-In: 90210
Competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), NCIS: LA (CBS), New Girl/Raising Hope (FOX), Biggest Loser (NBC)
Hook: Star Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to TV/the network (After Buffy), Young-female-skewing alternative
Facebook Likes: 39,988
Twitter: (No Separate Show Page on Twitter)

Timeslot: Wednesday, 8PM
Lead-In: Local programming
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Survivor (CBS), The Middle/Suburgatory (ABC), Up All Night/Free Agents (NBC)
Hook: Capitalizes on cable reality craze, Features proven young adult ratings draws
Facebook Likes: 3,715
Twitter: (No Separate Show Page on Twitter)

The Secret Circle
Timeslot: Thursday, 9PM
Lead-In: The Vampire Diaries
Competition: The X-Factor (FOX), Person of Interest (CBS), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), The Office/Whitney (NBC)
Hook: Supernatural elements, Young-female skewing, Compatibility with The Vampire Diaries
Facebook Likes: 36,972
Twitter: (No Separate Show Page on Twitter)

Whether or not a correlation exists between TV shows' social fanbases and ratings, YOU can see a positive business impact from social media...if you do it correctly. Learn from the best at Social CRM Go Live!