While a few weeks of ratings will soon seal the fates of this year’s fall lineup, one company is diving deep into social media to help networks gauge interest in this season’s crop of new shows ahead of time, and possibly help decide which ones are worth keeping around.
Analytics firm Fizziology  is currently in pilot programs with several studios, monitoring the pre- and postpremiere social buzz of their fall slates. Among the early winners in the social sphere are Fox’s The Mindy Project, NBC’s The New Normal and ABC’s 666 Park Avenue.
For NBC, the social metrics may provide a means of measuring viewer passion, in spite of ratings data. For example, according to Nielsen, last week NBC’s Go On (9.73 million viewers, 3.4 adults 18-49 rating) drew more viewers than The New Normal (6.96 million viewers, 2.5 adults 18-49 rating), yet The New Normal enjoyed nearly 260 percent more social buzz (tweets, Facebook posts and comments) than its lead in. Fizziology noted that many Normal viewers had already taken to quoting the show’s characters. “Go On had more eyeballs, but not necessarily better eyeballs,” noted Jen Handley, Fizziology co-founder and COO. “This isn’t a focus group of 12; it is the collected opinions of tens of thousands.”
Yet social metrics remains an uncertain science for networks. “The business is going to change, but until we see a shift from networks, social remains a very young piece,” said Dan Neely, CEO of research firm Networked Insights. “For brands, however, these metrics are used with ratings to assess investment and as a predictive indicator of the public’s awareness.”