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Tops of 2019: Social TV

3 minute read | December 2019

From Fantasy to Football

In today’s age of screen-based multitasking, the convergence of TV and social media is creating new experiences for audiences. Marketers, brands, media owners and, increasingly, savvy talent themselves, looking to capitalize on an oft-engaged and connected viewer have an impetus to understand the power of influence as a way to sway consumers.

In that regard, 2019 was a significant year for TV and social — from an explosion of OTT offerings to the social platforms’ experimentation in hiding “likes” and “replies,” it’s now more important than ever to measure the impact of social TV.

The rankings are in for the most social programs of the year, according to Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings® measurement. Spoiler alert: Unlike the Night King, linear TV is alive and well, especially on social media. Across just Facebook and Twitter owned content, total social interactions about linear TV grew by 120 million from 2018.

The final season of Game of Thrones topped the list of most social series in 2019, as the show dominated organic Twitter conversations, proving that if a show has a dedicated following, audiences will be motivated to make time for live appointment TV viewing and Tweeting. Arya’s epic vanquishing of the Night King in this season’s third episode became the most talked about social event across all TV series, sparking over 80,000 Twitter interactions in that single moment. For sports, the height of social conversation was during the Super Bowl halftime show, as Twitter fans reacted to Adam Levine’s performance and SpongeBob’s Sweet Victory clip, further blurring the lines between TV genres, brands and audiences.

Highly social programs this year were marked by action-packed content filled with unpredictability and conflict — whether it was on the battlefield, the football field, in the ring, or for a ring. “Unscripted” broadcasts also pushed to the top of the rankings, as seen by reality competition shows like America’s Got Talent and American Idol. Multi-season programming with dedicated fans like Grey’s Anatomy and the WWE and The Bachelor franchises also made the list while we continue to see live sports and specials energize linear TV. 

While climatic storylines and exciting moments within programs illicit organic responses on social, so do the owned social accounts working hard to promote them. Popular talent accounts are major players in driving social buzz for series. Many of the rankings below are due to strong owned content strategies coming from TV talent posting around and within linear airtime.

Overall, the changing and connected world we live in has opened doors for more opportunities and insights around the state of TV as told by social measurement.


The Series lists are ranked by average Total Interactions per episode across New/Live episodes during the time period. Specials and Sports Events are ranked by Total Interactions for each individual telecast. Talent lists are ranked by total Owned Engagements

Total Interactions = Original social media posts across Facebook, Instagram Business/Creator  Accounts, and Twitter related to a linear TV episode and the engagement with that content.

Owned Engagements = Social media activity generated off of the original posts sent by accounts owned or affiliated with TV programming. Owned engagement for Facebook includes comments, shares, and likes. Owned engagement for Instagram includes comments and likes. Owned engagement for Twitter includes retweets, quotes, replies, and likes.

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