The major TV networks just unveiled their fall programming plans during upfront week. In order to measure how broadcast and cable networks fared with consumers since last September until now, YouGov created a special BrandIndex report that examines the most talked-about networks among adults and young adults.
The Brandweek Buzz Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: The scores are based on weighing positive and negative perceptions of a brand. A +100 score is positive, a -100 score is negative, and a rating of zero means that the score is neutral.
YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 million individuals.
The ‘Big Four’: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox
When it comes to consistent buzz among adults 18-49, Fox and CBS win hands down. Fox kept enough positive momentum going with Glee (shown above), Fringe, House and other popular shows to stay ahead of its rivals. The network has been scoring within the 15-18 buzz range since September. Likewise, CBS’ buzz score was consistently within the 4-7 range, although a number of its shows began running on fumes and merited cancellations (examples include The Ghost Whisperer, Cold Case and Old Christine).
ABC spent the year seesawing, with peaks in early December (buzz score of 10.5) and March (10.3) — the latter powered by the return of Dancing With the Stars and the airing of The Bachelor wedding of Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney. On the other hand, the much-hyped sci-fi series FlashForward was retooled to no avail, and the net’s pickup of the NBC series Scrubs didn’t move consumer perception.
NBC spent the fall surging from a buzz score of 4.6 to 8.4, even inching ahead of CBS until November, when its Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien problems caused the bottom to drop out. Relentless potshots at NBC pushed down its score to -8.1 in mid-February. When Leno returned to his normal Tonight Show slot and the Winter Olympics diverted viewers’ attention, NBC bounced back to 2.3 on April 9. However, the net has slipped slightly since then and is hovering at the zero mark.
Young Adult Networks: Comedy Central, The CW, MTV, VH-1
Comedy Central continues to lead the 18-24 demo, having reached buzz scores that outdistance the “Big Four” networks. The home of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report had a buzz score of 33.4 in September, softened a little during December with a score in the mid-20s, and has spent all of 2010 heading up to its present score of 40.3.
The CW also started strong with a score of 14.4 on the coattails of Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries, peaking in late January with a 16.7 score. However, since then, the network has lost steam, rolling into sweeps month with a 6.6 buzz score.
VH-1’s full-court press into reality programming has the network floating a few points above the zero mark for all of 2010. Tough Love, Basketball Wives and Brandy and Ray J have helped hold VH-1 buzz levels steady with younger viewers, while competitors have faced challenges maintaining buzz levels during the second quarter.
MTV was mired in negative buzz territory all fall, until Jersey Shore materialized and changed its course upwards, from -13.8 in mid-December to 2.6 on Feb. 26. However, the show’s second season can’t return fast enough, as the net has begun to slide.
The Hip Cable Programmers: AMC, Bravo, USA Network, FX
The cable programmers have been reaping awards and ratings for their innovative shows. USA Network dominated most of the year, starting with a strong fall propelled by Monk’s final season, quirky detective hit Psych, the premiere of crime series White Collar and the continuing popularity of WWE Raw. The network’s buzz score peaked a few times in November at 26. Once Monk concluded its run, the score dropped sharply down to 17, but then ramped up with Burn Notice, February’s broadcast of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show and the March conclusion of White Collar. USA is now taking a breather with a score of 17, waiting to spark again with its pre-summer premieres.