As May comes to a close so does the network TV season, and with it the conclusion of several long-running series.
No ending was more notable than the series finale of Lost which sparked major water-cooler buzz. Less noted, but still historic is the end of NBC perennial Law & Order. After 20 years the crime drama is hanging up its badge, tied with Gunsmoke as the longest-running drama series in network history.
Where Lost follows a complicated and detailed story arc, Law & Order requires little or no knowledge of the show’s history to enjoy an episode. We wondered how these two opposing show formats affect how viewers watch?
Using FastTrack Broadcast we looked at both Lost and Law & Order’s ”Makes a Special Effort to Watch” scores and compared those data to the average for all broadcast programs. Lost’s average ”Special Effort to Watch” score is 30 points higher than broadcast average (77% vs. 47%). For the past two seasons Lost’s audience ”Talked About the Show” score almost double the broadcast average (57% vs. 30%) and ”Keeps Attention” was 19 percentage points better than average (73% vs. 54%).
On the other hand, Law & Order’s ”Special Effort to Watch” score came in 9 points lower than broadcast average (38% vs. 47%). Though lacking fanboys Law & Order succeeded via an ”Intelligent” score 20 points above average (56% vs. 36%) and 17 point-above-average in ”Intriguing” rating (56% vs. 39%).
Both Lost and Law & Order were extremely successful programs but with very different viewing patterns. Lost’s format created a loyal group of viewers but established a steep learning curve for any new coming watchers where Law & Order was not ”must-see” TV, but its consistent appeal allowed viewers to jump into a season at any point. FastTrack Television can be used to understand how show formats and content drive program viewing and interaction.