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ABC’s Once Upon a Time premieres to big ratings on TV and on Twitter

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Up next in our series of posts about what Twitter can tell us about new fall TV is an analysis of the most recent show to premiere, ABC’s Once Upon a Time. What did Twitter think of ABC’s new fairy tale drama? Let’s find out!

One of the last shows to premiere this fall season, Once Upon a Time aired for the first time on Sunday. Its premiere episode got really great ratings, garnering 12.8 million viewers and scoring a 3.9 rating in the desired 18-49 demo. To put that in context, TV|Line writes:

Once‘s tallies represent almost double what Extreme Makeover: Home Edition last did in the Sundays-at-8 slot. In fact, it’s ABC’s biggest audience in the time period with regular programming since March 2008 and its best 18-49 performance there in three years.

So, according to traditional TV audience ratings, the premiere of Once Upon a Time was a huge success for ABC. But what did the Twitterverse think? Were the Twitter ratings as high as the Nielsen ratings?

On Sunday, October 23, 2011 (the day of the first episode’s premier), 14,353 tweets about the show from 12,033 different people generated a reach of 6.55 million. Those are terrific numbers, with lots and lots of unique contributors, a healthy tweet volume, and an impressive reach. For comparison, here are the numbers for the premieres of two similar ABC shows (all three are hour-long dramas).

While Pan Am generated nearly twice as many tweets as Once Upon a Time on its first day, those tweets were posted by a smaller group of people and generated a much smaller reach. Revenge, which has already been picked up for a full season on ABC, generated fewer tweets, but had a very large reach. The size of both the contributor pool and the audience for those contributors’ tweets (as measured by reach) can tell us a great deal about a show’s popularity, particularly if we watch how these metrics trend over time. Take these graphs for recent tweets about ABC’s Pan Am and Revenge, showing tweets from 9/14 through 10/22, encompassing the first five episodes of both shows.
The spiky green graph represents tweet volume by day for each show, with large spikes on the day the show airs on television. The blue area represents weekly reach for each show. While the scales for the two shows differ, you can see a steady and alarming decline in both reach and tweet volume for Pan Am, after some initial interest during the first two shows. In contrast, Revenge seems to be picking up steam recently and is settling in to a solid pattern. (Note that reach plummets for both graphs on the right because the current week has just started, so weekly reach data is incomplete.)

But back to Once Upon a Time. Sure, the metrics for its first show look good, but what do the tweets about it actually say? Here are a few of the most-retweeted tweets.

Generally, most tweets with any opinion included a similar positive sentiment. It’s still very, very early – the show only premiered yesterday – but these tweets are definitely a good start. And of course, not everyone loved the show. Below are a few examples of less-than-glowing reviews. But even most of the popular negative sentiment tweets weren’t really all that negative, which is certainly a good sign (compare that to tweets about the now-canceled Playboy Club, which saw lots of highly negative tweets).

So, we’ll keep an eye on this show as it finds its footing in ABC’s Sunday night lineup. It’s still way too early to decide if this show will eventually get the axe or not, but based on early reactions, I predict that ABC will keep it around, at least for now (and based on that graph above, it’s probably safe to bet that Pan Am will be canceled soon). We’ll see how both shows do over the next few weeks.

Did you watch Once Upon a Time? What did you think?

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Written by Jenn D

October 24th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Trends

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