'Pretty Little Liars': The Beginning of the End of a Social TV Icon

Pretty Little Liars, which first debuted on Freeform when the network was still known as ABC Family, is arguably one of the original social TV hits — a show that generated amazing buzz on social media right from its June 2010 debut, helping it become a bona fide pop-cultural phenomenon. As the iconic series embarks on the second half of its seventh and final season, we took a look at what fans are saying and which advertisers have shelled out big to reach them.

According to Canvs, the language analytics company that measures emotions around content, the first two PLL episodes that have aired this spring have garnered a total of 53,097 Emotional Reactions (ERs) on Twitter. The first episode (which aired on April 18) had a whopping 38,054 ERs, making it the third most emotionally reacted to show, excluding sports, from April 18-26; only two episodes of NBC’s The Voice ranked higher.

While fans were obviously thrilled about the show’s return — 14.4% of ERs expressed excitement — some were already lamenting the impending series finale.

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so happy pll's back 

— miranda armstrong (@mirandaarmstr18) April 19, 2017


— soph (@droolhes) April 19, 2017

As I watch the show I feel emotional because I remember the show is ending #PLLEndGame#PLLchat#pll

— Ranbir and Deepika (@RanDeepForLife) April 26, 2017

As for the advertisers connecting with that engaged audience, we consulted with iSpot.tv to look at which brands spent big during the first half of season seven (which aired last June 21 through Aug. 30) and which ones are back for more so far this year.

Overall in 2016, 311 brands spent an estimated $16 million airing 618 spots during episodes of Pretty Little Liars. Movie studios, quick-serve restaurants and wireless brands were among the top industries to shell out for commercials. The individual brands that spent the most included Warner Bros., Verizon, Arby’s and Olive Garden.

Verizon and Warner Bros. were also among the brands that had the ads with the highest digital share of voice among the PLL audience.

Clearly Verizon and Warner Bros. were pleased with results from 2016 because they are back among the top spenders on PLL this year.

Few series have resonated with a millennial audience the way Pretty Little Liars has, and for some fans, they literally grew up watching the show. There’s no doubt it’ll be a bittersweet ending come June.

I feel like a part of my childhood is ending with PLL #PLLEndGame

— reeka (@erikasteele_) April 19, 2017

Eleanor Semeraro is an analyst and contributor with TV [R]EV.