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TV Season In Review: The Top Social Moments of the 2016-17 Season

3 minute read | June 2017

With the U.S. broadcast TV season recently wrapped, Nielsen’s Social Content RatingsTM—launched at the start of the season—found that a whopping 2.9 billion social interactions about programs across Facebook and Twitter were generated across the digital ether. While consumers’ collective eyes witnessed everything from NBA buzzer beaters to a dramedy about relationships to, of course, zombies of all sorts, their respective thumbs were still typing away, interacting with talent or other fans through social media.

Additionally, the TV season saw a lot of firsts that generated much buzz: from the first-ever overtime Super Bowl to ABC’s announcement of the first African-American Bachelorette. These—and other—defining moments set the social stratosphere abuzz and, given the hype, we took a look back to highlight the top series, specials and sports events on social media in the U.S.


In addition to chatting about some classic series veterans, audiences gathered to discuss a few break-out newcomers. The emotional drama “This is Us” generated nearly 7 million social interactions throughout the season, close to a fifth of which came from the season finale, which left fans at the edge of their couches in desperate need of tissues.

Zombies continue to drive social! For the third consecutive season, The Walking Dead topped our social TV series list. During each episode of The Walking Dead on average, fans generated 2 million social interactions about the program across Facebook and Twitter. “Empire” on FOX seized the second spot on our list, with 860,000 interactions generated per episode.

And when it comes to engagement, fans aren’t only interacting with each other—they’re able to engage with program talent in real time to discuss what’s happening on-screen, driving a considerable portion of the conversation.  In the season finale of The Walking Dead (TWD) on April 2, series star Chandler Riggs drove a significant portion (15%) of all owned engagement for the episode, more than any other talent, program, or network account associated with TWD. By sending 22 Tweets during airtime, “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’s” official program account, @LoveHipHopVH1, was able to drive over two-thirds (68%) of all owned engagement for the season finale on May 8, 2017


Live events and awards shows dominated our top 10 specials this year. The Grammys  took the “award” for the most social special of the season for the second year in a row, while the Oscars claimed the most social moment among specials when 836,000 interactions across Facebook and Twitter occurred within 5 minutes driven by the [unforgettable] incorrect announcement of “La La Land” for best picture.


What started out as a seemingly lifeless matchup, Super Bowl LI later turned into quite the nail-biter, as the finale of the NFL season came out on top again this year for most social sports event, with over 190 million interactions across Facebook and Twitter. The most social moment in a sports event also took place during the Super Bowl, when 7.5 million interactions occurred as the Falcons and Patriots’ newly tied score led the game into the Super Bowl’s first-ever overtime.


Nielsen Social Content Ratings measures U.S. social media activity on Facebook and Twitter related to programs from three hours before through three hours after linear telecasts. Includes new/live telecasts aired on English and Spanish-language broadcast and national cable networks between Sept. 18, 2016 and May 24, 2017. Series list includes primetime and late fringe programming and excludes programs with less than five telecasts. Specials exclude political programming. Sports events and specials include programming aired across all dayparts. For multicast programs, networks are listed alphabetically and metrics reflect the highest interactions across all airing networks, denoted with an asterisk. Due to data collection issues, programming aired on the following dates were excluded: 10/29-11/3, 11/6, 12/8, 2/28, 3/7-3/13.

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