TV Upfronts: Using Social Media as an Early Indicator of TV Show Success

The annual TV upfronts come to an end this week and media buyers are looking for ways to ensure they make the best possible ad buys this fall season including wanting to make placements in shows that may be sleeper hits or have unique resonance with audiences. We used our analytics capabilities to help brands determine which programs show a lot of promise to be big hits and which shows to avoid for risk of cancellation.

To prove the predictive nature of social to programs’ success or cancellation, our team looked back at over 1.5 million social posts from April 2014 to December 2014 to understand the conversation around the shows included in the Fall 2014 lineup. We found that chatter around successful TV shows demonstrates high love, desire, excitement and amusement. Sure enough, shows that are now cancelled registered significantly higher for undesirable emotions such as hatred.

Overall, we identified two encompassing attributes (love factor and disapproval factor) that consumers attribute to TV shows they speak about on social media. The disapproval factor consists of a high volume of hatred and low volume of desire and success emotions. On the other hand, the love factor consists of high volumes of love, like, hope and other similar emotions.


When we looked at the fall lineup in relation to these factors, we found that cancelled TV shows garner 50 percent fewer posts reflecting the love factor than shows that were not cancelled. In the chart below, we’ve plotted the fall lineup according to love and disapproval factors to show them at high, moderate or low risk of being cancelled. This is key because, essentially, advertisers now have an indicator of how television programs where they are considering investing ad budget will perform, well before they commit to the season.


Overall, 60 percent of the shows we identified as high-risk were cancelled. Of the 26 medium-risk shows, 46 percent were cancelled. And of the low-risk shows, 22 percent were cancelled.

With this data, brands can better determine where to spend their limited advertising budget to reach an engaged audience that will stick with a show throughout the season. For more on how Networked Insights’ Kairos® can help anticipate changes that may affect ad purchasing decisions such as the TV upfronts, contact us here.