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Tops of 2015: TV and Social Media
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Tops of 2015: TV and Social Media

From a magical play at the end of Super Bowl XLIX that sealed the fate of the Seattle Seahawks—and potentially cemented Tom Brady’s place in the Parthenon of sports gods—to a show about a mogul of a hip-hop empire to a telenovela about a wealthy businessman with a big decision to make, U.S. consumers had plenty of compelling content to watch and Tweet about in 2015!

Sports—particularly football—dominated viewers’ TVs in 2015. In fact, eight out of 10 of 2015’s top 10 telecasts—as well as several of the top regularly scheduled programs—were related to gridiron goings on!

Sports aside, today’s consumers continue to dictate their own programming schedule by time-shifting content when they want it. And scripted programming—dramas specifically—continue to be audiences’ fare of choice in this regard. Almost all of the top time-shifted shows—whether ranked by the percentage increase or the absolute difference between the live and seven-day viewership—were scripted dramas.

But watching is just one part of the equation these days.

Over the past year, millions of TV fans across the U.S have come together on Twitter each week to discuss TV’s biggest moments as they happen live without leaving the comfort of their own couches. Nielsen ranked the top series, specials and sports events on Twitter this year, along with the most-Tweeted-about minute in each category.

For the third year in a row, an AMC program topped the list of top series on Twitter. On average, 4 million people saw at least one Tweet about new episodes of The Walking Dead. And the undead certainly brought Twitter to life: people sent an average of 424,000 Tweets about each episode.

Award shows—and Kanye West specifically—were also in the spotlight on Twitter this year. In fact, 248,000 Tweets were sent at 10:49 p.m ET about the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in the minutefollowing West’s announcement that he would be running for President of the United States in 2020. This moment was the most-tweeted TV minute of 2015…but we’ll have to wait a half-decade to see if the hip-hop impresario makes good on the campaign run.

Top TV Programs of 2015 – Single Telecast

Rank Telecast Originator Date Aired Persons 2+ Rating Average No. of Viewers
1 SUPER BOWL GAME XLIX NBC 02/01/2015 38.9 115,204,000
2 SUPER BOWL POST NBC 02/01/2015 24.7 73,156,000
3 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP ON CBS CBS 01/18/2015 14.3 42,273,000
4 OSCARS, THE ABC 02/22/2015 13.0 38,618,000
5 CFP CHAMPIONSHIP L ESPN 01/12/2015 11.4 33,671,000
6 FOX NFC WILDCARD POST GUN FOX 01/04/2015 11.2 33,064,000
7 FOX NFC PLAYOFF-SAT FOX 01/10/2015 10.5 31,139,000
8 BLACKLIST NBC 02/01/2015 10.3 30,489,000
9 AFC DIV-PLF-POST-GAME-SU CBS 01/11/2015 9.7 28,581,000
10 CFP SEMIFINAL L ESPN 01/01/2015 9.6 28,468,000
Source: Nielsen NNTV Program Report
Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/08/2015. English- and Spanish-language telecasts on Broadcast and Cable. Broadcast Prime. Persons 2+. Live+7. Excludes breakouts, sustainers and programs less than 5 minutes in duration. Sample minimums applied.
Read as: The Oscars on ABC averaged 38.6 million viewers who watched live or via time-shifted viewing within seven days.

Top 10 Primetime TV Programs of 2015 – Regularly Scheduled

Rank Program Originator Persons 2+ Rating Average No. of Viewers
1 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL NBC 7.8 23,292,000
2 BIG BANG THEORY, THE CBS 7.1 21,065,000
3 NCIS CBS 7.1 20,913,000
4 WALKING DEAD AMC 6.6 19,669,000
5 EMPIRE FOX 6.0 17,747,000
6 CBS+NFLN THU NT FOOTBALL CBS 6.0 17,665,000
7 NCIS: NEW ORLEANS CBS 5.8 17,316,000
8 SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK NBC 5.8 17,084,000
9 BLUE BLOODS CBS 5.1 14,974,000
10 DANCING WITH THE STARS ABC 4.9 14,555,000
Source: Nielsen NNTV Program Report
Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/08/2015. Regularly scheduled English- and Spanish-language programs on Broadcast and Cable. Broadcast Prime. Persons 2+. Live+7. Excludes breakouts, specials, sustainers, repeats, programs less than 5 minutes in duration and programs with less than four telecasts. Sample minimums applied.
Read as: NBC Sunday Night Football averaged 23.3 million viewers who watched live or via time-shifted viewing within seven days.

Top Spanish-Language Programs – Regularly Scheduled

Rank Program Originator Persons 2+ Rating Average No. of Viewers
1 MI CORAZON ES TUYO TUE UNI 7.5 3730
2 MI CORAZON ES TUYO WED UNI 7.3 3656
3 MI CORAZON ES TUYO MON UNI 7.2 3612
4 MI CORAZON ES TUYO THU UNI 7.2 3602
5 MI CORAZON ES TUYO FRI UNI 7.1 3542
6 HASTA FIN DEL MUNDO MON UNI 6.6 3312
7 HASTA FIN DEL MUNDO TUE UNI 6.6 3287
8 HASTA FIN DEL MUNDO THU UNI 6.6 3286
9 HASTA FIN DEL MUNDO WED UNI 6.5 3253
10 HASTA FIN DEL MUNDO FRI UNI 6.4 3191
Source: Nielsen NNTV Program Report
Dates: 1/1/2015 – 11/08/2015. Spanish-Language Networks. Broadcast Prime Span. Live & Live+7, Ranked on Live+7 AA U.S. Proj (000). Excludes breakouts, specials, sustainers, repeats, programs less than 5 minutes in duration and programs with less than four telecasts. Sample minimums applied.
Read As: Mi Corazon Es Tuya Tue on Univision averaged 3.7 million viewers tuning in Live or via time-shifted viewing within seven days.

Top 10 Time-shifted TV Programs of 2015 (Ranked by % Change in Viewers)

Rank Program Originator % Increase in Viewers from Time-shifted Viewing
1 FARGO FX 240.3%
2 TRUE DETECTIVE HBO PRIME 220.7%
3 BETTER CALL SAUL AMC 215.2%
4 BATES MOTEL A&E NETWORK 201.8%
5 GAME OF THRONES HBO PRIME 195.9%
6 JUSTIFIED FX 185.6%
7 ROYAL PAINS USA NETWORK 181.1%
8 TEEN MOM II SSN6 MTV 180.3%
9 SUITS USA NETWORK 177.3%
10 TEEN MOM SSN 5 MTV 165.7%
Source: Nielsen NNTV Program Report
Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/08/2015. Cable & Broadcast. Broadcast Prime; Primetime TSV%: Percent increase in rating is based on absolute difference between Live Persons 2+ and Live+7 Projections. A program must reach at least a 1.0 Live+7 P2+ rating and have at least four telecasts. Excludes breakouts, sustainers, specials, repeats, and programs less than 5 minutes in duration. Sample minimums applied.
Read as: The TV viewing audience to Fargo on FX increased 240% from the live audience with time-shifted viewing (within seven days).

Top 10 Time-shifted TV Programs of 2015 (Ranked by Absolute Difference)

Rank Program Originator Absolute Difference in Viewership
1 WALKING DEAD AMC 10,894,000
2 BIG BANG THEORY, THE CBS 9,396,000
3 EMPIRE FOX 7,663,000
4 BLACKLIST NBC 7,327,000
5 BLINDSPOT NBC 7,125,000
6 MODERN FAMILY ABC 7,052,000
7 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC 6,945,000
8 NCIS CBS 6,916,000
9 GAME OF THRONES HBO PRIME 6,299,000
10 SCANDAL ABC 5,994,000
Source: Nielsen NNTV Program Report
Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/8/2015. Broadcast & Cable. Broadcast Prime. Absolute difference between Live Person 2+ and Live+7 Projections. A program must reach at least a 1.0 live+7 P2+ rating and have at least 4 telecasts. Excludes breakouts, repeats, sustainers, specials, and programs less than 5 minutes in duration. Sample minimums applied.
Read as: The TV viewing audience of The Blacklist on NBC increased by about 7.3 million viewers from the live audience with time-shifted viewing (within seven days).

2015 Top 10 Series on Twitter

Rank Network Program Avg. Unique Audience (000) Avg. Impressions (000) Avg. Unique Authors (000) Avg. Tweets (000)
1 AMC The Walking Dead 3,978 28,033 153 424
2 ABC The Bachelor 3,593 31,909 72 156
3 HBO*, HBO Latino Game of Thrones 3,171 16,609 74 152
4 ABC The Bachelorette 2,587 24,518 49 114
5 FOX Empire 2,525 27,379 137 559
6 FX American Horror Story: Hotel 2,336 11,949 87 239
7 ABC Family Pretty Little Liars 2,272 12,805 86 285
8 ABC Scandal 2,154 13,495 59 222
9 NBC Parks and Recreation 2,105 6,766 43 89
10 ABC Grey’s Anatomy 1,986 7,158 54 120
Read as: On average, 4.0 million people saw one or more of the 424,000 Tweets sent about each new episode of “The Walking Dead” on AMC. Tweets about each new episode were sent by an average of 153,000 unique authors and seen 28.0 million times.
Source: Nielsen. Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/30/2015. Nielsen Social measures Tweets in the U.S. from three hours before through three hours after airing, local time. Twitter TV Audience is measured from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5 a.m. Includes new/live prime time and late fringe airings on English- and Spanish-language Broadcast and National Cable Networks and excludes programs with less than five telecasts. For episodes that are simulcast on multiple networks, networks are listed alphabetically and metrics reflect the highest Unique Audience across all airing networks, denoted with an asterisk.

The most-Tweeted series minute of 2015: The Voice (NBC), which garnered 182,000 Tweets at 8:57 p.m. ET on April 28.

2015 Top 10 Specials on Twitter

Rank Network Program Date Total Unique Audience (000) Total Impressions (000) Total Unique Authors (000) Total Tweets (000)
1 CBS The 57th Annual Grammy Awards 02/08/15 13,317 1,045,771 2,393 13,432
2 ABC The Oscars 02/22/15 13,019 801,272 1,438 5,923
3 MTV 2015 MTV Video Music Awards 08/30/15 11,823 676,317 2,236 21,356
4 NBC The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards 01/11/15 10,436 332,410 556 1,885
5 ABC 2015 American Music Awards 11/22/15 10,158 229,108 935 5,331
6 ABC 2015 Billboard Music Awards 05/17/15 9,805 174,229 787 3,321
7 TV Event State of the Union 2015 01/20/15 9,726 295,051 681 2,598
8 Fox News Channel Republican Presidential Candidates Debate 08/06/15 9,278 393,185 674 3,293
9 CNN CNN Republican Debate 09/16/15 9,008 314,085 563 2,459
10 BET BET Awards 2015 06/28/15 9,004 369,186 927 7,381
Read as: 13.3 million people saw one or more of the 13.4 million Tweets sent about “The 57th Annual Grammy Awards” on CBS on Sunday, 2/8/15. Tweets about the awards show were sent by 2.4 million unique authors and seen a total of 1.0 billion times.
Source: Nielsen. Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/30/2015. Nielsen Social measures Tweets in the U.S. from three hours before through three hours after airing, local time. Twitter TV Audience is measured from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5 a.m. Includes new/live airings on Broadcast and National Cable Networks only.

The most-Tweeted minute in a special in 2015: 2015 MTV Video Music Awards (MTV), which garnered 248,000 Tweets at 10:49 p.m. ET on Aug. 30.

2015 Top 10 Sports Events on Twitter

Rank Network Program Event Date Total Unique Audience (000) Total Impressions (000) Total Unique Authors (000) Total Tweets (000)
1 NBC*, NBC Universo Super Bowl XLIX New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks 2/1/2015 16,132 2,050,162 5,124 25,068
2 Pay-Per-View Boxing Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao 5/2/2015 11,624 491,602 1,825 5,858
3 FOX*, FOX Deportes NFL Football NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks 1/18/2015 11,501 358,740 1,088 3,332
4 FOX, Telemundo* 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup United States vs. Japan 7/5/2015 11,173 322,814 1,114 3,453
5 FOX*, FOX Deportes NFL Football NFC Divisional Playoff: Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers 1/11/2015 11,172 299,935 949 3,007
6 ESPN*, ESPN Deportes 2015 National Championship Ohio State vs. Oregon 1/12/2015 11,040 399,450 1,199 3,937
7 ABC*, ESPN Deportes 2015 NBA Finals Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers 6/16/2015 10,167 360,827 1,291 5,054
8 ESPN*, ESPN Deportes Rose Bowl Florida State vs. Oregon 1/1/2015 10,126 275,413 799 2,564
9 CBS NFL Football AFC Championship: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots 1/18/2015 10,061 193,454 667 1,848
10 CBS 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament Duke vs. Wisconsin 4/6/2015 9,822 276,860 891 2,666
Read as: 16.1 million people saw one or more of the 25.1 million Tweets sent about “Super Bowl XLIX”, which aired on NBC and NBC Universo on Sunday, 2/1/15. Tweets about the event were sent by 5.1 million Unique Authors and seen a total of 2.1 billion times.
Source: Nielsen. Data from 1/1/2015 – 11/30/2015. Nielsen Social measures Tweets in the U.S. from three hours before through three hours after airing, local time. Twitter TV Audience is measured from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5am. Includes new/live airings on Broadcast and National Cable Networks only. For multicast events, networks are listed alphabetically and metrics reflect the highest Unique Audience across all airing networks, denoted with an asterisk.

METHODOLOGY

Source: Nielsen. Data from Jan. 1, 2015-Nov. 30, 2015. Nielsen Social captures relevant Tweets in the U.S. from three hours before through three hours after broadcast, local time. Unique Audience measures the audience of relevant Tweets ascribed to a program from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5 a.m. Sports events, Series and Specials include those on English- and Spanish-language broadcast and national cable networks only. Sports events and Specials are across all day parts and are ranked by unique audience for each individual telecast. Series include new/live prime time and late fringe programming only and are ranked by average unique audience across new/live episodes during the time period and exclude programs with less than five telecasts. For multicast programs, networks are listed alphabetically and metrics reflect the highest unique audience across all airing networks, denoted with an asterisk.