Wetpaint's TV Fandex Measures Programs' "Online Engagement"
Wetpaint, a company that offers a platform designed to enable fans to easily create and participate in themed online communities (note: according to the company, its service has resulted in a network of over 1.5 million fan Web sites that is "dominated by TV and entertainment"; over 30% of users of these fansites spend more than five hours a week connecting with other users on subjects related to their favorite TV show, the company says), on Monday launched the Wetpaint TV Fandex, which it bills as the first-ever measurement tool to gauge "online engagement" with TV programs rather than just measuring the size of those programs' viewing audience. According to the company, the new ratings service uses sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Wetpaint-powered fansites to generate ratings through an algorithm that tracks consumption and creation of content and fan "buzz." It is calibrated to measure both the online footprint of popular shows with a large established fan base, the company says, as well as "the velocity of emerging TV shows as they generate early online buzz." "It's clear there is a fundamental decentralization underway in how consumers experience TV programming, but the measurement tools have remained substantially the same," Wetpaint CEO, Ben Elowitz, said in a prepared statement. "Fans now have the tools to connect and evangelize and they are using them with gusto. The TV Fandex provides networks and producers with the first gauge of the winners and losers in creating and retaining an online audience."
Among the Wetpaint TV Fandex's findings:
- Programs with big reveals, surprise twists or dramatic finales see "enormous spikes" in online fan activity, often with a prolonged echo effect.
- New sci-fi shows like "Dollhouse" and "Fringe" ramp up quickly to rival established hits like "Lost" and "Supernatural" in online momentum--in many cases before their first episode even airs.
- Premium series, such as "True Blood" and "The Tudors," retain significant levels of engagement online long after their season finales and throughout the course of the off-season.
- Reality shows generate significant online engagement mid-season, which drops off abruptly after their finales.
- The top 10 shows for the current week, in terms of online engagement, are 1) "True Blood," 2) "NCIS," 3) "House," 4) "Weeds," 5) "Supernatural," 6) "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," 7) "Bones," 8) "The Mentalist," 9) "The Tudors," and 10) Gossip Girl. The Fandex rankings also include such long-tail favorites as "Star Trek" (currently ranked 42nd) and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (currently ranked 48th). Wetpaint says that rankings will be updated on a regular basis at www.fandex.com and through a Twitter feed (@tvfandex).