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Will your favorite show get the axe?

Tweets about TV shows may provide better clues than sheer numbers for which series will last.


Dave Copeland


Posted on Oct 18, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 2:06 am CDT

The writing for the five new television shows that have already been canceled this season was on the wall—or, more accurately, on Twitter.

Tweetreach, a service offered by San Francisco-based Appozite, has been using in-depth analysis of all Tweets about new television shows to accurately predict which ones are going to get canceled. That’s how cofounder Jenn Deering Davis could tell the remake of “Charlie’s Angels” was doomed before last week’s official cancellation announcement by ABC.

“Before it was canceled, it was averaging about 5,000 tweets per week. It spiked after the cancellation was announced, but, by comparison, ‘Revenge,’ which seems to be doing okay, is averaging about 10,000 tweets per week,” she said.

But Davis doesn’t just count tweet volume. On the quantitative side, her firm’s analytics measure the reach of tweets and the number of people tweeting about a show. On the qualitative side, Tweetreach digs down deeper and sees what people are saying in their tweets.

“A show like ‘Playboy Club’ may be getting a lot of tweet volume in a given week, but if the messages that are getting retweeted are all about how well the show are about how awful it is, that’s not good,” Davis said.

For the record,  NBC canceled the much-hyped “Playboy Club” earlier this month.

As for the wave of post-cancellation tweets? Too little, too late.

“Two of my new favorite tv shows are canceled! Wahhh!!!! Bye Charlies Angels and bye The Playboy Club I will miss you dearly!! :( </3,” Brittnee Ward tweeted after last week’s announcement.

Networks and advertisers alike love Tweetreach, Davis said. It’s an improvement over Nielsen ratings, which simply track the number of people watching a show without assessing whether they love it or hate it. Such detailed analysis may also one day help advertisers with campaigns that go beyond simple spots (which may be missed by DVR and Hulu viewers) or old-fashioned product placements.

Tweetreach has been regularly tracking the 25—make that 20—new shows this season on its blog. Now on Twitter deathwatch: Fox’s “Terra Nova.” The good news for Fox, which reportedly spent $20 million on pre-production and is on the hook for another $4 million per episode, is that Davis thinks the show will at least make it through its first season.

“Terra Nova” has some loyal fans who post online commentaries, but is also drawing some criticism so far.

#terranova yet again trying to draw on credit it has not yet earned. Amnesia/regression in ep 4? We barely know who these people are yet,” Kate Marziller tweeted ahead of Monday night’s episode.

Nielsen isn’t conceding television tracking to upstarts. Earlier this month, the old-line ratings firm released a study showing a statistically significant” connection between social media buzz and television ratings.

And most of the major networks have been made a major push to promote their offerings via social media.

The ultimate challenge for Hollywood, though, will be to understand the followings of hit television series as communities of interests, not collections of data points.

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*First Published: Oct 18, 2011, 10:00 am CDT