13 Apr 2012
Hang on Dawson it’s going to be a bumpy life

Returning in ABC’s latest comedy, Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23, James Van Der Beek is finally returning to TV as a meta version of himself – a post-modern Dawson to be exact, one who is challenged at actually being James. Confusing? Yes, but no less confusing than the title of the show that has undergone several transformations and successfully shares its Twitter handle “@Apt23” with frequent  instructions of where to find a house party.

However with that aside, Apartment 23 represents the last of the new shows promised at the 2011 Upfronts. It also represents the latest socialTV experiment, having released the first two episodes of the series early online. While there have been numerous shows this season (Awake, Smash, and Once Upon a Time to name a few) that have premiered early online, they have all performed with mixed results. As we saw with these other shows (namely Awake), early pilot releases garner lots of positive buzz, new Facebook Fans, and Twitter followers for the show, but rarely guarantee long-term success. This is partially due to the lack of sync between the live-TV consumer and the digital-consumer which is often apparent when using traditional GRPs as a performance metric instead of social alternatives (like the Social Index, # of Twitter followers, etc.). Still according to pre-premiere conversations, Apartment 23 seems doomed to being marginally successful with social viewers, due to its placement at the end of a lackluster TV season, and right before the summer, it’s going to struggle with GRPs regardless of fans.

This struggle, however life threatening to the show’s renewal, still offers many opportunities for brands and networks to unlock the hidden value within this program. As noted in the image below, we can see that the show’s audience skews older, female, and more affluent. This aligns a bit with the fact that it has been over 10 years since Dawson’s Creek was first on the air and those original fans have aged and matured in their lifestyles.



Another thing to note in this slide is that while all social channels are active when new episodes premiere, Twitter is the real connective tissue that keeps conversations flowing from one episode to the next. While some reports may have you believe that this is a normal behavior, Twitter conversations don’t always flow between episodes. Tweeters demand constant stimuli to keep them interested in a particular topic so more often than not slow-burning forums and blogs tend to be the connective tissue. If we’re seeing Twitter as the dominant consistent channel, then that means there is somebody stoking the fires on Twitter between episodes. As far as the overall conversation goes, the discussions trend positively and in favor of the show in general:

What is more fascinating are the visualizations of these conversations:



The illustration above identifies that James Van Der Beek has the largest single cluster of conversation. It also indicates that within the Apartment 23 conversations there are those who watched the episodes online early and enjoyed them (top right hand corner), and those who are just mentioning the show’s name within a larger discussion of ABC’s show lineup (bottom left hand corner). Minus the Krysten Ritter conversations that are helping to connect the two conversation clusters together, it appears at this point there are still more conversations originating from people that have yet to watch the pilot.

From all of this information (the demographics, the location of where these conversations are occurring and the level of interest behind them) we are able to craft a unique image of the Apartment 23 audience. Through this image we are then able to analyze and ascertain what content (outside of Dawson clearly) that they engage with and what kind of content they resonate with. Examples of this content can range from celebrities, to musicians, brands, and even other TV shows. For this particular audience we discovered that over the last 30 days, some of the top content that resonated with them included actor James Franco, listening to the new The Black Keys album, shopping at Target, and being  fans of Modern Family.


About Sean Reckwerdt

Sean Reckwerdt is the Lead Analyst and a Cultural Anthropologist at Networked Insights. As a TV, Transmedia, and Multi-modality specialist, Sean explores the areas in which consumers, brands, networks, and fans overlap in real-time.

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