Audience's emotional response predicts future live TV viewership

Thursday, January 25th, 2018
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Georgetown McDonough Professor and Canvs Study Proves Audience Emotions Predict Live Television Viewership

  • ‘This Is Us’ Saw a 10% Increase In Live Tune-In Following a Strong Week of Emotional Reactions (ERs) Driven by Talent

NEW YORK — Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and emotion measurement leader Canvs today announced a joint study on how television show audience Emotional Reactions (ERs) impact the following week’s live airing viewership. The study — Reacting to Actors, Characters, and Programs: Social TV Content and Television Viewing Behavior — found that certain viewer ERs in response to talent can predict an increase in live tune-in the following episode.

The study was led by David Schweidel, professor of marketing, Georgetown McDonough, who will be incorporating the Canvs emotion measurement dashboard into his course, “Leveraging Social Media.” Georgetown McDonough is the first partner in Canvs’ new Academic Partnership Program, which launched in fall 2017, and focuses on building strategic partnerships between the emotion measurement experts at Canvs and key marketing research and psychology professors at key top-tier universities.

“Talent not only drives emotions, but also live viewer tune-in week over week,” said Schweidel. “Further, there is a sustained effect of talent-driven ERs increasing live and time-shifted viewership over multiple weeks.”

With appointment viewing on the decline, it’s more important than ever for networks to understand what is driving live viewing. The study looked at 621 episodes across 55 primetime scripted programs across broadcast networks (ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, The CW) and spanning genres (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy). All programs aired Q1 2017 (January – March).

Key Findings

  • Show-specific ERs have a positive impact on live viewing.
  • Talent-related ERs had twice the impact as general emotional reactions, but much less common.
  • In one example, NBC’s This Is Us enjoyed more than a 10 percent increase in live viewers from episode 17 to 18 thanks to a spike in total ERs driven by talent.
  • Furthermore, there is a sustained effect over multiple weeks, with talent-driven ERs increasing live and time-shifted viewership over the following three to four weeks.

“This study proves emotions not only drive increased live viewership week over week, but also improve the number of time-shifted viewers in the first three days after a show airing,” said Jared Feldman, CEO at Canvs. “With OTT and subscription services on the rise, there’s a strong indication audience’s Emotional Reactions will align with subscription retention as well.”

Canvs was founded in 2014 to help media companies inform their TV programming results from reactions on Twitter. Today, with API access to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and with their own API, Canvs is empowers media companies, technology platforms, brands and agencies to decode the troves of social banter across platforms. Companies that trust Canvs for emotion analytics include: Netflix, FOX, NBC, Viacom, Warner Brothers, Sony Entertainment, Initiative, Lionsgate, Pilgrim Studios, PopSugar, StyleHaul, Creative Artist Agency, Assembly, and 360i, among countless more.