Ratings have traditionally gold standard for the renewal of shows. The networks care about how many people watch their shows in order to chase those advertising dollars, but trying to convince the advertiser to buy into what they’re selling has become more challenging as live ratings decline and viewing habits shift. Networks are conceding that viewership can’t be measured overnight anymore.
If you’ve noticed by looking at our updated Ratings, All Seasons of “Supernatural,” page, “Supernatural” in Season Ten has been trending down slightly from last season. TV Series Finale has taken their analysis further than ours, ranking all the CW shows based on 18-49 and overall viewers. Although slighty up in overall viewers (4.11%), the 18-49 demo rating is down (-7.89%) and 18-49 Live +7 DVR viewers have declined as well. Currently “Supernatural” is the third highest rated show on The CW, behind second place “Arrow” (up 12.89% in 18-49 and 7.96% in overall viewers) and the brand new mega hit (for The CW anyway) “The Flash.”
Not that those numbers are any concern. Ratings decline for all networks across the board every year and new measurements are becoming more relevant. Case in point, digital audience and social media ratings.
CBS has accepted as their standard this year Live +7 DVR ratings. The Fox network is taking things further, promoting 30 day platform measurements. You have to admit, these are some very impressive numbers for “Gotham” when stretching out the measurement timeline.
The CW knows and has formed their entire strategy on the belief that in this crowded landscape, competing for that 18-34 demo that traditionally does not watch live television means they need to promote their brand via alternate forms of viewing. The CW is among the highest with it comes to online viewing (almost a third of the total viewing audience at last count). But the CW shows are really doing well with digital media.
As the Internet has become more part of daily life, the measure of social media traffic for a show has become more and more important. In October 2013 Nielsen, the ratings giant, started to track Twitter activity on shows as a supplement to its traditional ratings . So how is “Supernatural” doing on Twitter? Pretty well, actually. “Supernatural” has been in the top five broadcast shows on Twitter consistently in season ten. Here are the ratings for example from the 200th episode:
and this week
That isn’t the only venue we do well in. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr are the popular ways fans interact. How does “Supernatural” do on these sites? Variety reported that for the week of January 19, 2015-January 25, 2015 the show had the fourth highest Digital Audience Rating. This is based on a combination of Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Wikipedia hits. According to the article:
CW’s midseason premieres dominated the Broadcast leaderboard this week with “Supernatural,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Arrow” all occupying spots on the Broadcast top 10. Tumblr led “Supernatural’s” jump with more than 3.4MM engagements, while countdown posts on Facebook led the way for “The Vampire Diaries” and “Arrow.”
Fan engagement with people associated with the show really helps as well. For example, The Shorty Awards which “honor the best of social media, recognizing the people and organizations producing content on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and the rest of the social web,” is taking nominations for it’s seventh annual award presentation. Our own Osric Chau has sent out a tweet asking us to nominate him for his own Shorty. The reaction was pretty huge.
— Osric (@OsricChau) January 27, 2015
But all the “Supernatural” actors are online now engaged with the fans, as well as several writers, producers, and a variety of crew members. It’s the greatest form of mutual appreciation there is and it’s changed the ways fans perceive TV shows. Heck, even Jensen Ackles conceded and finally joined Twitter last year. Shows that rank higher on the Digital Audience and Twitter ratings tend to have people involved with the show actively engaged online as well, especially when the shows air.
As a matter of fact, despite the variance in live ratings, the CW recently renewed all eight of their scripted fall shows, the first time that’s ever happened on the network. So why did lower rated shows like “Reign,” “Jane The Virgin,” and “The 100” get renewed as well? Easy, their social media engagement and online popularity remains to be stronger than other network shows. This is serious business for The CW, and it’s no wonder that mature shows with loyal audiences like “Supernatural” and “The Vampire Diaries” thrive online even if their ratings don’t match the old days.
It’s an exciting time for a show to be on social media. Talking to each other, tweeting about our show, showing our love out on the Internet actually helps keep “Supernatural” on the air. We should all be proud, and now we know that whatever this fandom does online actually matters. Keep up the good work guys!
(Thanks to Eileen, who also fueled our idea for this article with her links).