When attempting to compare cable shows across multiple networks and services, it can be difficult to get an apples-to-apples comparison. Ratings are useful, but they don’t measure WHY viewers watch a program. Additionally, ratings don’t cover most SVOD original programs yet, leaving out a significant portion of the new television landscape.
Ratings also don’t account for important influences on viewership decisions like passion for a program, or the ability to generate social media conversations. We used E-Score Programs to gain a more thorough view of the cable television landscape. E-Score Programs measures a universe of thousands of cable and streaming shows, making it possible to compare programs on an even plane.
Hidden Gems of Cable
Some high-Awareness shows have no problem creating passionate fans, as we saw when we applied our Passionate Fan Index (PFI) to broadcast shows like Empire. However, just because a show is obscure, does not mean it is any less capable of generating passionate fans. With this in mind, we applied our PFI to cable shows and filtered for shows with low Awareness, but high PFI scores to discover the hidden gems of cable.
While critically acclaimed shows like The Walking Dead enjoy passionate fans (166 PFI score) and high ratings, our findings show passionate fans are not concerned with ratings. They may watch mainstream shows that garner a lot of attention, but they also enjoy more obscure offerings on the “long tail” that ratings miss. Shows like If Loving You is Wrong generate passion (145 PFI score), but miss the ratings mark.
From Power (Starz) to Broad City (Comedy Central), cable’s hidden gems come from varied services and genres. E-Score Programs unlocks the common threads among these shows like having excellent program characters and storylines. Without this critical data on more than 2,500 programs across basic and premium cable, as well as SVOD originals, it is difficult to assess the strength of viewer commitment to a program and what is driving ratings.
The Power of Social
Word-of-mouth has long been recognized as the best advertising, and viewers who share their passion are more than just fans, they’re “influencers.” Combining E-Score Programs attributes Recommended Show, Talked About Show, and Social Sharing, we created the Social Passionate Fan Index (Social PFI) in order to better understand which shows are generating significant conversations via word-of-mouth and social media.
Passion and social conversations go hand-in-hand. Of the top 10 on the social PFI list, 70% also appear on the top 20 for the comprehensive cable PFI. Leading the way are shows like Power, which is the top program on the Social PFI. In fact, half of all current viewers, ages 18-49, say they have Talked About [the] Show.
The average score for shows on all cable or streaming platforms for the attribute Talked About Show is 30%. However, the top 10 Social PFI list’s average score is 48%. Interestingly the most talked about show among the Social PFI top 10 is a non-scripted show, America’s Best Dance Crew, which doubles down on the social aspect of watching as 53% of viewers say they Watch With Friends.
Overall, the Social PFI list is almost a 50-50 blend of hidden gems and popular mainstream shows, proving that the ability to generate social conversations denotes the ability to generate passion, regardless of measurable ratings.
Sharing the Passion of Broad City
The statement “drama evokes passion” holds as true for cable as it did for our broadcast PFI. There is an exception on our list, however. Broad City is the only comedy to make either PFI list; landing on both.
The passion for Broad City is evident as 71% of viewers say they Make A Special Effort To Watch the show. This is not surprising when we look at program elements that fans scored as Excellent, including Relationships (80%) and Main Characters (71%).
The inclusion of this program on these PFI lists is further validated when we see that viewers consider Broad City as One of My Favorites at more than double the rate of the average comedy. One fan described the show as, “by far the best comedy on television.” Hidden gems that create social conversations are the shows that are worth investing in or imitating.
Ratings are playing a decreasing role in measuring program success as ratings are less meaningful for cable and SVOD platforms, and increasingly omit crucial information about why and how viewers watch. This is why E-Score Programs is the perfect complement to ratings data; we allow comparison of disparate programs on equal footing, and provide the full picture that ratings leave out.
Feel free to utilize these infographics in your social shares or other uses. To download, simply click the images and right-click, or pull the full sized images.