Identifying a Hit From the Start: This Is Us

This Is Us was the breakout hit of last year and has spawned numerous imitators and thousands of comments from the pundits. But advertisers, programmers and competitors can’t wait until the end of the season to get on the bandwagon. E-Score saw that This Is Us was primed for success right from the start.

A Hit from the Beginning

When This Is Us debuted in September 2016, E-Score Programs data showed it standing out from the competition in crucial ways.

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  • In terms of the Program Elements E-Score Programs measures, This Is Us scored in the 90s (excellent/very good) for Program Characters, Storylines, Situations, Relationships, and Idea compared to low to mid 80’s for the Drama genre average.
  • Already in September 2016, This Is Us was showing massive Engagement metrics, with 87% of viewers making a Special Effort to Watch compared to 62% for the average drama show.
  • From the get-go, This Is Us was appointment television, as 51% of September viewers Planned Ahead to Watch, compared to a drama average of 30%.

Will there be another breakout hit this season? We don’t know, but E-Score Programs will be watching and monitoring all the new shows to see which ones stand out above the pack.

Comparing This Is Us to Other Freshman Dramas

Another way to identify hits is by comparing against the competition – other debuting shows. From the beginning, This Is Us surpassed its fellow “freshman” programs, especially for its intense connection with viewers.

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  • In September 2016, 73% of viewers described This Is Us as Emotionally Involving, compared to just 31% on average for the other freshman dramas (and 26% for all freshman shows).
  • Viewers also immediately connected with the show’s characters, with 41% saying This Is Us Has Characters I Care About, vs 24% for all freshman programs.
  • This Is Us viewers were not shy about spreading the word, with 49% saying they Talked About Show, tops among new shows, and 17 points above the average for all freshman series.

This Is Still A Trend

Of course, many things can trip up a promising new show, such as a poor time slot, mis-targeted marketing, etc. This Is Us followed up its strong debut with an upward trajectory throughout the year on many key elements.


  • The program has shown a steady increase in the key Would Miss a Lot metric, up by 18 points from premiere to its end-of-season reading (77% vs. 59%).
  • This is Us finished the broadcast season as the number one show viewers would miss most if it were no longer on the air.

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