Facebook analyzed conversation on the social network about Fox drama Empire throughout its first season, from its Jan. 7 premiere through its March 18 finale.
Data analyst Yuning Zhang and media research manager Brian Robinson wrote in a Facebook Media blog post that Empire was the first television series “in recent memory” to see its audience grow each week.
During the season finale, Nielsen said 16.7 million U.S. TV viewers watched at least six minutes of the two-hour episode. As for Facebook, that episode generated 15.8 million posts, likes, comments and shares from 2.3 million U.S. users.
Zhang and Robinson wrote about their findings in the blog post:
The chart below shows minute-by-minute conversation about Empire by people on Facebook in the U.S. during the live broadcast of the pilot episode, where conversation equals posts that included key terms related to the show (including show title, character names, actor names and popular hashtags) and actions on those posts (likes, comments and shares).
For this episode, the volume of social conversation doubled during commercial breaks. We see this regularly for TV shows—during breaks, many people turn to Facebook to join the conversation about what they’re watching.
This worked well for Empire—each episode included moments that generated social conversation, such as musical numbers, cameos by celebrities and surprising plot twists. While we see show-related conversation spike during commercial breaks for many types of TV shows—including sports events and award shows—show-related spikes are smaller for programs that are less social in nature, such as procedural dramas and sitcoms.
As the finale was being broadcast, 18.3 million people in the U.S. saw Empire-related posts in their News Feeds. In other words, as the finale was being broadcast, there were more people in the U.S. who saw posts about Empire on Facebook than who watched six or more minutes of the show.
Readers: How often do you interact on Facebook while watching TV shows?