The Most Watched TV Shows Are Not The Most Talked About Online

Measuring viewer “engagement” on TV is simple. You count how many people tune into a given show. It stands to reason that the most popular shows would also be the most popular ones on social networks. But that is not exactly the case. Networked Insights, a company that measures brand engagement on social networks, compared the top ten TV shows for the week of September 22 to 28, as measured by Nielsens, to the most talked about TV shows on social networks, as measured by which ones were most commented on, linked to, shared, or rated. The comparison is for the 18 to 49 year-old demographic.

While there was a 50 percent overlap (Gray’s Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars, Two and a Half Men, CSI Miami, House), the rankings were different. Gray’s Anatomy ranked No. 8 in social network interactions versus No. 1 on broadcast TV. Two and a Half Men, which was ranked No. 5 on TV, was No. 1 on social networks because of its avid online “quote following” (people who follow quotes from the show). Desperate Housewives, No. 2 on TV, doesn’t even rank on social networks, possibly because people don’t like to talk about their guilty pleasures. More surprising is that The Office doesn’t rank in the social network list either, but Criminal Minds does (at No. 2).

If you were a brand marketer, would this matter to you? Would you shift your ad budget to shows that capture more attention after the fact online, or keep it with the tried true on TV proper?

Here are the two lists again because the image above is a little fuzzy. I’ve bolded the shows that appear on both lists.

Neilsen’s Top Ten TV Shows

1. Gray’s Anatomy
2. Desperate Housewives
3. NBC Sunday Night Football
4. Dancing With the Stars
5. Two and a Half Men
6. CSI Miami
7. House
8. Heroes
9. The OT
10. The Office

Networked Insights Top Ten TV Shows On Social Network

1. Two and a Half Men
2. Criminal Minds
3. House
4. CSI Miami
6. Brothers & Sisters
7. Cold Case
8. Gray’s Anatomy
9. Family Guy
10. Dancing With the Stars