‘Suits’ Wraps Up Without a Big Bump From Royal Buzz

Season seven of USA Network’s legal drama Suits is coming to an end this week and we were curious as to whether the current royal buzz around Meghan Markle, who plays Rachel Zane, gave the show any noticeable bump in viewer attention or emotional engagement. Below, a deep dive into this question using data from Canvs, iSpot.tv and Inscape.

According to emotion measurement company Canvs, neither Markle nor her character Rachel were among the top emotionally reacted-to topics for season six or the first half of season seven, which aired before Meghan and Prince Harry’s engagement was announced on Nov. 27.

Top emotional topics for season six:

Top emotional topics for the first half of season seven:

And although it isn’t a huge bump, Rachel does rise in the list during the most recent episodes that have aired since the show returned on March 28. Many viewers have been talking about their love for Markle’s character and how they’re sad that she won’t be returning next season. (Markle announced that she has retired from acting to make time for her royal duties.)

According to iSpot, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from more than eight million smart TVs, during the first 10 episodes of season seven in 2017, 119 brands spent an estimated $8.5 million running 199 commercials (including network promos) over 400 times, generating nearly 358.4 million TV ad impressions.

The graphic below shows brands that racked up a minimum of 3 million TV ad impressions during the first half of the season, and also achieved an impressive iSpot Attention Index. An iSpot Attention Index over 100 indicates brands with ads that are less likely to be interrupted than average (for example, an iSpot Attention Index of 120 is 20% less like to be interrupted); interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV.

Since the season returned, 83 brands have run 109 spots over 160 times, spending about $3.8 million and generating almost 109 million impressions, according to preliminary iSpot estimates. (It’s worth noting that one reason these numbers are lower than last year is that only four episodes have aired so far this spring.) And when it comes to attention, Lexus has remained one of the big players.

Heatmaps from Inscape, the TV measurement company with glass-level data from a panel of more than 8 million smart TVs and devices, reveal that viewership has trailed off a bit since season seven started back up, compared to the most recent episode (April 18). And there’s no discernible bump in viewership in and around Los Angeles, where Markle was born and raised. (On the heatmaps below, the darker the color in the graphic, the more households were tuning in, with the baseline normalized by each state’s population).

Another viewership trend revealed by Inscape is that the more episodes that were watched, the more likely people were to DVR the show and then watch it within 1-3 days of the original airing. And Suits viewers seem to really enjoy legal and crime dramas — other popular shows among the audience include Law & Order and its various spinoffs, CSI and CSI: Miami, plus Bull, Blue Bloods and Chicago P.D.

Of course with the two-part season finale happening this week, it remains to be seen if rising royal fever — as the wedding date approaches — will cause a meaningful viewership bump as the season concludes.