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‘Game of Thrones’ Nabs No. 1 Spot as Most-Social TV Show in Q1, While Netflix’s Engagement Surges

The looming battle for Westeros led “Game of Thrones” to dominate social buzz in the first quarter of 2019 — even before HBO debuted the eighth and final season to record ratings last month.

More surprising than “GOT” capturing the social crown, though, has Netflix’s impressive overall social engagement growth, according to data from research firm ListenFirst Media.

In Q1, after “Game of Thrones” the No. 2 TV show on ListenFirst’s social-interest ranking was Netflix’s comic-book adaptation “The Umbrella Academy,” followed by “You,” the psychological drama Netflix picked up for season 2 after debuting on Lifetime. Netflix’s awkward British comedy “Sex Education” was in the sixth spot, after Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” and The CW’s “Riverdale.”

Overall, streaming services have outpaced traditional TV networks in social engagement: Social engagement for streaming shows jumped 200% from Q1 2017 to Q1 2019, while broadcast and premium cable programs grew by 55% and 69%, respectively, during the same period, per ListenFirst.

And Netflix is responsible for the lion’s share of the traction among streamers. In 2018, Netflix had nine of the top 10 streaming shows with the highest ListenFirst Social Engagement Score (“13 Reasons Why,” “Stranger Things,” “Elite,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Queer Eye,” “Voltron: Legendary Defender,” “Insatiable” and “Bojack Horseman”), with Amazon Prime Video’s “The Ground Tour” the lone exception.

In Q1 2019, Netflix landed in the No. 5 spot on the most-social TV networks overall. ESPN led the pack, followed by NBCUniversal’s E!, ABC and NBC. Rounding out the top 10, after Netflix were Fox, Fox News, The CW, CBS and CNN.

On the platform side, YouTube and Instagram have surged in activity for audience engagement among TV shows. On YouTube, TV pages’ fan footprint climbed 211% over the past two years (from Q1 2017 to Q1 2019). During the same time period, engagement on Instagram grew 123%, versus 28% growth on Twitter — and a decline of 43% on Facebook.

Organic reach for TV shows on Facebook is “rebounding” and Twitter is maintaining steady growth, said Tracy David, ListenFirst chief marketing officer. But right now, “Instagram and YouTube have become the hot destinations for TV programs to communicate with fans,” she said.

Top 10 TV Shows by Social Interest, Q1 2019

Rank TV Program Network ListenFirst Interest Score Change QoQ
1 “Game of Thrones” HBO 9,131,741 119%
2 The Umbrella Academy Netflix 6,539,998 4,570%
3 “You” Netflix 4,255,507 331%
4 “Shadowhunters” Freeform 4,175,533 1%
5 “Riverdale” The CW 3,680,102 -15%
6 “Sex Education” Netflix 3,572,147 12,818%
7 “The Walking Dead” AMC 3,219,131 -23%
8 “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” NBC 2,954,968 72%
9 “American Crime Story” FX 2,621,628 286%
10 “Supernatural” The CW 2,612,892 34%

ListenFirst Interest Score: TV episodic programs ranked by volume of search (Wikipedia page views) and Twitter conversation (hashtag and handle mentions); Jan. 1-March 31, 2019

 Top 10 TV Networks by Social Engagement, Q1 2019

Rank TV Program ListenFirst Social Engagement Score Change QoQ
1 ESPN 564,599,450 18.7%
2 E! 204,378,699 6.8%
3 ABC 202,105,390 6.7%
4 NBC 199,904,064 6.6%
5 Netflix 187,559,460 6.2%
6 Fox 161,306,198 5.3%
7 Fox News 160,866,419 5.3%
8 The CW 151,481,950 5.0%
9 CBS 108,203,801 3.6%
10 CNN 85,691,584 2.8%

ListenFirst Social Engagement Score: TV network roll-ups (including episodic programs, sports, news, live events) ranked by volume of post reactions, likes, comments, shares, comments, keyword mentions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, Jan. 1-March 31, 2019

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