Facebook showcases big ‘Breaking Bad’ numbers as it courts TV industry

By Cory Bergman 

After every big TV event, Twitter is quick to share its social TV stats for the broadcast. But with Facebook suddenly in the social TV race, it shared its own numbers the morning after the “Breaking Bad” finale on AMC. And as you might imagine, Facebook’s sheer reach plays to its advantage.

Facebook said the show generated over 5.5 million interactions from more than 3 million Facebook users. Compare those numbers with Twitter — which originated from SocialGuide’s tracking — of 1,472,793 tweets from 682,216 unique users. For reference, AMC reported that the show attracted 10.3 million viewers, up 300% over last year’s finale ratings.

“The conversation [on Facebook] is being generated by a group that is much more representative of the general population — that means we should have a better signal as it relates to ratings,” Facebook’s Daniel Slotwiner told the WSJ. Facebook said it will distribute a weekly report to the big four networks with engagement data — likes, comments and shares — around their shows.

Numbers aside, Twitter continues to own the social TV spotlight, attracting such press as “‘Breaking Bad’ is a breakout hit for Twitter” and “Here’s why Twitter, not Facebook, is the place to discuss Breaking Bad and other TV shows.”

Chalk it up to Twitter’s big head start and deep integration in the TV business. Breaking Bad’s cast, crew, writers and directors actively participated on Twitter, generating buzz for the big finale. That collective activity — and it doesn’t hurt that actors Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston were especially vocal — helped Twitter transcend its sheer numbers. Fans rallied around the #GoodbyeBreakingBad hashtag, which was displayed on air throughout the finale. Twitter says it was mentioned 500,000 times.

As Facebook continues its aggressive push into social TV, it has the challenge of climbing TV’s tall cultural wall. After all, Twitter spent years and millions of dollars becoming a friend of the TV industry. Launching social TV products and sharing big-time numbers is a good start, but Facebook still has a ways to go before becoming synonymous with TV.