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Emotional Responses to Actors Can Predict Higher Rated Episodes

Strong emotional responses on social media to an actor in a television program can predict an increase in live tune in for the following episode, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Law using emotion measurement by Canvs, looked at 521 episodes of 55 scripted primetime broadcast series during the first quarter of 2017.

Related: Canvs and Ampsy Team Up to Measure Emotion During Live Events

Reacting to Actors, Characters, and Programs: Social TV Content and Television Viewing Behavior found that when it saw show-specific emotional responses, there was a positive impact on live viewing. When the reactions were related to talent on the show, they had twice the impact of more general emotion reactions.

“This study proves emotions not only drive increased live viewership week over week, but also improve the number of time-shifted viewers in the first three days after a show airing,” said Jared Feldman, CEO at Canvs. “With OTT and subscription services on the rise, there’s a strong indication audience’s Emotional Reactions will align with subscription retention as well.”

One specific episode of This is Us racked up a 10% increase in live viewers from one week to another when there was a spice in emotional responses driven by talent, whose Golden Globe winning cast includes actor Sterling K. Brown and Chrissy Metz.

Bumps in talent-driven emotional responses can have a sustained effect over multiple weeks, the study found.

“Talent not only drives emotions, but also live viewer tune-in week over week,” said David Schweidel, professor of marketing at Georgetown. “Further, there is a sustained effect of talent-driven ERs increasing live and time-shifted viewership over multiple weeks.”

Canvs specialize in measure emotion using semantic analysis technology to understand people’s feeling and the business impact that creates for brands, agencies and media companies. Media companies Canvs works with include Comcast, Fox, Turner and Netflix. Canvs is also the provider of qualitative insights for Nielsen.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.