Twitter TV Report: The Super Bowl Can't Help The Blacklist Beat Shonda Rhimes

By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire) Editor-in-Chief


Unique Authors: Number of Twitter accounts that sent at least one tweet about TV Show

Impressions: Number of times a tweet related to the TV show was seen

Unique Audience: Number of Twitter accounts which had at least one Impression.

Tonight, NBC and ABC are the center of the biggest competition on television and it doesn't involve defecating touchdown celebrations or Lebron James setting a time bomb in Cleveland's hearts.  No, no, no. Tonight, for the first time ever, the two biggest dramas from both networks in the last three years are airing in the same 9 P.M. time block. ABC's Scandal squares off against NBC's crime thriller The Blacklist. Before Shonda Rhimes' Olivia Pope duels with Jon Bokenkamp's Raymond Reddington for your eyes, they waged war last week, as both returned from winter breaks for the first time in three months with Scandal airing on January 29th and The Blacklist following Super Bowl XLIX on February 1st. The Shonda Rhimes' executive produced and noticeably superior drama How To Get Away With Murder also made its return on January 29th and one thing became readily apparent when looking at all of their Twitter performances:

On Twitter, not even the football gods can save you.

The Numbers

The Blacklist:

  • 1.604 million unique audience
  • 3.415 million impressions (2.12 impressions per unique audience member)
  •  62,000 tweet authors (3.86 percent of unique viewers tweeted about the show)
  • 124,000 tweets (2 tweets per author)
  • 26.5 million viewers 

Scandal :

  • 3.729 million unique audience 
  • 35.043 million impressions (9.39 impressions per unique audience member)
  •  135,000 unique  authors (3.6 percent of unique audience members tweeted about the show)
  • 527,000 tweets (3.9 tweets per author)
  • 10.48 million TV viewers

How To Get Away With Murder:

  • 2.164 million unique audience
  • 11.173 million impressions (5.16 impressions per unique audience member)
  • 64,000 unique authors (2.95 percent of unique audience members tweeted about show)
  • 169,000 tweets (2.64 tweets per author)
  • 9.18 million TV viewers

The Analysis 

By most metrics, nothing else happened last week but Super Bowl XLIX. This year's Super Bowl was the most watched show in U.S. television history with 114.4 million viewers and dominated Twitter with 16.132 million Twitter accounts seeing at least one of the mind bending 250 million+ tweets about the game. This was an incredible springboard for the return of NBC's hit show The Blacklist from its self-imposed three month winter break as it was not only the most watched episode of the series' history but the most watched NBC scripted show that followed the Super Bowl in 10 years. The episode was the most watched scripted series on either ABC, NBC, CBS or FOX since Ashton Kutcher killed Two and A Half Men with his debut in September 2011. Basically, the millions of those still catatonically gazing at the screen in disbelief that Pete Carroll LITERALLY threw away a Super Bowl stayed on to help The Blacklist nearly triple its average TV viewership. 

But, Tom Brady getting his first Super Bowl ring in a decade and The Blacklist making viewers believe its star was dead is nothing against the Twitter power of Shondaland:

People who saw tweets about Scandal saw those tweets 4xs as often as those who saw tweets about The Blacklist. It's understandable since Scandal's January 29th episode attracted 4xs as many tweets as The Blacklist. But How To Get Away With Murder's January 29th episode's impressions per unique audience member rate is more than twice as large as The Blacklist's while only attracting 36% more tweets. The people who are tweeting about The Blacklist are not:

1. tweeting about The Blacklist enough 

2. are sending tweets mostly understandable to those following the show, reducing a non-viewer's retweet which usually leads to more eyes (Impressions) on a specific tweet. 

Here are the most popular tweets from the official Twitter pages for The Blacklist, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder during each show's airing last week:

Visual updates on an episode's progress are the leading driver of Twitter interactions for these three shows, but not all visuals are created equal. The image of a bloodied and battered Raymond Reddington (James Spader) from The Blacklist with a lethal weapon, a matching gaze and heroic "I'm Going To Get Her Back" quote next to him could relate to anyone who has seen any action movie where the gun-toting vigilante with a heart of gold saves the damsel in distress. However, a photo of a glimmer of light through window blinds with a "What. Just. Happened" tweet is not going to reach past those who actually know what just happened. 

Scandal's official Twitter account was ripe with tweets about Ike Turner and retweets from a shocked Good Morning AmericaHow To Get Away With Murder's official Twitter account was a mixture of show quotes about children born from infidelity millions of jilted lovers could relate to and Annalise's side-eye from hell that only the most dedicated HTGAWM fans would retweet instantly. Both of those shows, especially their January 29th episodes, are structured around powerful lead female performances from Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) and Kerry Washington (Scandal) with both January 29th episodes focused primarily on getting both of their leading ladies out of a jam.

It's easier to relate to characters than it is plots. Family Matters was great, but besides the episode where Eddie got beat up by a gang, all I remember is Steve Urkel and his catchphrases. Even that episode, the most indelible scene is Urkel going Linda Tripp and wearing a wire in the gang's hideout to get incriminating information. The Blacklist has been trying to make their magnetic star character more integrated in fans' social lives. The show are rewarding people with $25,000 in cash if they can find Raymond Reddington look-a-likes scattered throughout America. That's a cool social media campaign but it is not organically developed by the fanbase. How To Get Away With Murder has fans putting Annalise Keating on Maury and Scandal has a rabid fanbase with a vested interest in Olivia Pope's happiness (and drunken choreography):

But maybe Shonda Rhimes' Twitter dominance over Jon Bokenkamp's The Blacklist has more to do with timing than execution. The Blacklist's February 1st episode had a 24 percent share of all television-enabled households for the 18-49 age range, the largest TV viewing group in America and over 60 percent of Twitter's active users. Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder had a combined 21 percent share. The Blacklist had the right audience watching just not at the right time according to a 2013 study of mobile app usage by app analytics firm Localytics: 


Twitter has 284 million monthly active accounts and 227.2 million (80 percent) of those accounts are active through mobile devices. The peak time people are on social networks is 9 P.M., the usual time slot for ABC's Scandal. At 10:30 P.M., the time slot of The Blacklist's post-Super Bowl episode, social network activity is at its lowest since before 7 P.M. People are on their phones using Twitter after 10:30 as often as they are right before primetime television (8pm-9PM). Tonight's 9 P.M. airdate for The Blacklist and Scandal should level the playing field, but with the official Scandal account having over 580,000 more followers than The Blacklist's official Twitter account, this fight might already be over.

Bye, Red.


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