More than 2.9 billion social interactions across Facebook and Twitter were recorded during the just-concluded 2016-2017 TV season, according to Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings. Last year saw nearly a billion tweets sent in the U.S. about TV in the 2015-2016 season.
With data collected from September through May, Nielsen was able to learn which shows (and other live TV experiences) generated the most buzz among viewers.
The chart below from Nielsen shows the amount of interactions on average per episode of the top 10 most socially popular TV shows. Nielsen also notes that the most talked about shows aren’t always the ones that rank top in viewership; The Walking Dead and Empire get high ratings with established audiences, but newcomer hits like This Is Us also gave viewers plenty to talk about.
Other popular shows include The Bachelor, which announced the first Bachelorette lead contestant of color this year; Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta; The Voice; WWE Monday Night RAW, the only sport-centric show to crack the top 10; Saturday Night Live; Love & Hip Hop; and American Horror Story: 6.
What might also help drive social conversations, according to Nielsen, are fan interactions with talent from the TV shows in real-time as the episode is airing. For The Walking Dead’s season finale on April 3, Chandler Riggs drove 15 percent of all owned engagement for the episode; this is more than any other talent, program or network account associated with his show.
While The Walking Dead is the most popular show on social media for the fourth year in a row, this year’s season saw fewer tweets per episode with 308,000 as compared to last year’s 435,000.
Last year’s report doesn’t show the difference between multiple social platforms, as Facebook was recently included in research with the launch of Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings for the 2016-2017 season, so direct year-over-year comparisons can’t be made.
The report also shows which live specials dominated the social sphere during this past TV season; Super Bowl LI was the most popular live sports event, with 191.8 million interactions across Facebook and Twitter in the U.S; the 59th Annual Grammy Awards saw 26.7 million interactions across Facebook and Twitter in the U.S., placing it as the most popular special. And when La La Land received the Best Picture award incorrectly at the Oscars in February, 836,000 interactions across Facebook and Twitter occurred within five minutes of the initial mistake.
Check out the full study to see how Nielsen collected its data and to learn more about what drives viewers to engage with TV content on social platforms while the episodes air.