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Digital Audience Ratings: Midseason Premieres–Who’s on Top?

January is becoming ever-more important as a launching pad for new TV series, rivaling the traditional fall premiere season. According to ListenFirst’s DAR-TV ratings, which uses Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Wikipedia, and YouTube to measure digital engagement of TV shows, a few newcomers stand out, particularly AMC’s long-anticipated “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul”, which snagged the number one spot on the DAR-TV Top 10 New Programs leaderboard with a DAR-TV of 2,627,227.

While it’s not surprising that a “Breaking Bad” spinoff would be drawing this much appeal, it’s clear that fans can’t wait to get a taste of what’s coming: sneak peeks on both YouTube and Facebook are a big part of what drove the show to the top. With more than a month to go before its debut, there’s no question that the series will continue to rack up fan engagement.

Following “Better Call Saul” on the DAR-TV Top 10 New Programs list is FOX’s “Empire,” a family drama centered around the world of a hip-hop empire. A third of the show’s total engagement is coming from Facebook, where posts featuring the show’s all-star cast are getting fans ready to rock. Syfy’s “12 Monkeys”, based on the 1995 film, swung in at number three; fans of the original movie, science fiction buffs, and skeptics have all been weighing in on the show’s trailer. In the fourth spot, ABC’s “Agent Carter” makes an appearance, drawing more engagement from Wikipedia than many of the other shows in the bunch, perhaps due to curiosity amongst Marvel’s enormous following. Rounding out the top 5 is MTV’s “Eye Candy”, which secured the spot thanks to teaser trailers posted on MTV’s official YouTube channel, which were some of the most engaging videos posted to the channel in December.

Most of the shows in the DAR-TV Top 10 New Programs are all premiering in January/early February, and momentum is high as their respective networks ramp up marketing and promotion. Shows coming out later in the season – late February, March, April premieres – will start to shine as they get closer to go time. But there were a few exceptions: though it narrowly missed the Top 10 (it came in at #11), E!’s “The Royals”, a Drama about a fictional British Royal family set in London, is already racking up tons of buzz despite the fact that the show doesn’t premiere until mid-March. In December, behind-the-scenes looks got fans particularly excited to enter palace gates this spring. There’s no question the show will drum up even more buzz as the premiere nears.

And some other notable mentions that are coming down the bend later in the season and are already showing sparks: CBS’s “CSI Cyber”, PBS’s “Wolf Hall”, and Netflix’s “Bloodline”. Below you can find the full DAR-TV Top 10 New Programs and their premiere dates.

Digital Audience Ratings (DAR) – TV
Top 10 New Programs Dec 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014

RANK PROGRAM (Premiere Date) PROGRAMMER RATING
1 Better Call Saul (2/8) AMC 2,627,227
2 Empire (1/7) FOX 1,991,386
3 12 Monkeys (1/16) SyFy 1,585,585
4 Marvel’s Agent Carter (1/6) ABC 1,061,310
5 Eye Candy (1/12) MTV 963,381
6 Galavant (1/4) ABC 545,568
7 Togetherness (1/11) HBO 476,289
8 Backstrom (1/22) FOX 243,135
9 K.C. Undercover (1/18) Disney Channel 156,525
10 Hindsight (1/7) VH1 134,952

There are less surprises when it comes to the DAR-TV Top 10 Returning Programs. Fresh off of the show’s December finale and ready to spring into Cycle 8, “The Voice” soars over the rest of the contenders with a DAR-TV of 76,101,384, while “Pretty Little Liars,” which has the most engaging Instagram audience of any scripted TV series, took the second spot in line. Activity on Instagram made up almost half of “PLL’s” total engagement, where countdowns, tune-in alerts, and questions to fans keep their audience coming back for more.

Another ABC Family series, “The Fosters,” is poised for a strong season two: the show has an uber-engaged Facebook audience, who have been liking posts that include candid photos of the cast and questions about the show’s plot ahead of the season premiere.

Similar to the DAR-TV Top 10 Returning Programs, most of the DAR-TV Top 10 Returning Programs in the upper echelon have premiere dates coming up over the next few weeks. But there was one exception: ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”, which doesn’t return until the beginning of March. Happy birthday posts and short videos on Facebook are keeping fans caught up in the fairytale as the show gets closer to the season premiere.

Below you can find the full DAR-TV Top 10 Returning Programs and their premiere dates.

Digital Audience Ratings (DAR) – TV
Top 10 Returning Programs Dec 1, 2014 – Dec 31, 2014

RANK PROGRAM (Premiere Date) PROGRAMMER RATING
1 The Voice (2/23) NBC 76,101,384
2 Pretty Little Liars (1/6) ABC Family 18,474,653
3 The Walking Dead (2/8) AMC 12,120,753
4 Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (2/8) HBO 10,814,556
5 The Fosters (1/19) ABC Family 4,074,623
6 Grey’s Anatomy (1/29) ABC 3,584,189
7 Girls (1/11) HBO 3,355,357
8 Duck Dynasty (1/7) A&E 2,785,498
9 Once Upon A Time (3/1) ABC 2,397,274
10 Real Time With Bill Maher (1/9) HBO 2,108,689

Jason Klein is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of ListenFirst Media, a data and analytics company providing insights for brands. ListenFirst aggregates data streams from a wide range of digital, social, and traditional marketing sources to help brands optimize business performance.

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