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Primetime TV has certainly taken its lumps in the past couple of years, as the need to watch nightly series for water cooler conversation has become somewhat outdated behavior. For now, social media is where fans are able to come together and share thoughts (and rabid complaints) about everything the small screen has to offer. And now that the 2016-2017 TV season has officially ended and the numbers are in, it looks like the biggest shows on Facebook and Twitter make up quite a different list than the most-watched shows of the year. #Demographics.
Join us in looking at the 10 biggest TV shows of the past season, in terms of how popular each series has been in the world of social media. There will be some surprises on the way to #1, and let's start things off with one of the biggest surprises of the year by default.
10. American Horror Story: Roanoke - FX
Secrecy definitely played into American Horror Story's sixth season gaining so much ground, with co-creator Ryan Murphy & Co. keeping a tight lock on the found footage-esque storyline for Roanoke. And then all that pre-release buzz transferred to after-release posts wondering WTF Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sarah Paulson and the rest got themselves into. Never underestimate the conversation-starting power of several dozen plot twists being shoehorned into an episode.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 292,000
9. Love & Hip Hop - VH1
A microcosm of the TV landscape as a whole, reality TV isn't nearly as popular as it was when American Idol was breaking ground. Still, VH1's spinoff-crazy series Love & Hip Hop is about as consistent as it gets, with its latter seasons doing better than the first half of the show's run, and fans cannot get enough of the music and drama from these New York-set entertainers. A years-later return from a former star likely helped things.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 298,000
8. Saturday Night Live - NBC
It's impossible to tell how Saturday Night Live would have fared in Season 42 had it not been for the political campaign and election victory of Donald Trump, since around 80% of the conversations surrounding SNL have been about Alec Baldwin and others' impressions of the current Washington D.C. administration. But just like so many other seemingly impossible things, SNL once again managed to be both relevant and funny for weeks on end.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 365,000
7. WWE Monday Night Raw
Professional wrestling is the kind of entertainment that likely would have done well on social media had Twitter existed back in the last 1970s and early 1980s. With a fanbase that embraces the predetermined schlock and awe of the sport's occasionally bizarre storytelling, the WWE isn't as popular as it once was, big picture-style, but it's certainly clear here that the current viewership is interested in sharing thoughts on everything going on inside the squared circle.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 371,000
6. The Voice - NBC
It almost feels like a cheat for The Voice to show up on this list, considering the show imposes social media use on viewers as a way of voting for one's favorite act. But it's obviously working, so it's hard to penalize the show for its success. Oh, and Miley Cyrus joining the squad for the fall cycle probably didn't hurt The Voice's popularity among younger crowds.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 396,000
5. Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta
If you thought the flagship Love & Hip Hop series was where things topped off, then you need to go melt a while in Hotlanta, because that's the show pulling in way more conversations. Audiences can't get enough of Joseline and Stevie's drama, as well as Kirk's baby mama drama, along with everything other ounce of drama that's complicating all the cast members' love lives and careers.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 406,000
4. This Is Us - NBC
Somewhat bafflingly, This Is Us is the only new series on this list, and all but two have been on the air for six or more seasons. That's a pretty huge distinction, but it's just a drop in the bucket for the headline-making and tear-soaked drama. From the timeline reveal of the pilot to the tragedies to the ongoing mystery surrounding Jack's death, This Is Us captured TV fans' hearts and Twitter thumbs.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 436,000
3. The Bachelor - ABC
Like some other reality shows, The Bachelor is one that seems tailor-made for Facebook and Twitter, with a slew of contestants and fans that live-tweet during episodes. The most recent season with Nick Viall was given an early boost by the wacky antics of contestant Corinne, and it only got more chatter-worthy from there. (Especially when new Bachelorette lead Rachel Lindsay was announced before The Bachelor had even eliminated her.)
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 453,000
2. Empire - Fox
When Empire debuted, it was one of the biggest things on TV, with a consistent ratings surge that TV just doesn't see very much these days. That success has definitely faltered, with the shock-dropping and malicious hip hop drama having lost over a third of its initial viewership in just two season. But it's still crushing many other network series in the ratings, and as evidenced here, more people are talking about Empire on a weekly basis than the entire audiences of some cable shows.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 860,000
1. The Walking Dead - AMC
I don't think anyone will be too shocked to see The Walking Dead atop this list, since it's one of TV's most watched shows, and appeals to further conversation in a way that CBS's top-rated shows cannot. Despite some ratings issues, The Walking Dead completely demolished every other TV show on social, more than doubling Empire's popularity. Certainly a large chunk of that came from the notorious Season 7 premiere, but all the other twists and turns of the season likely weren't far behind Lucille's big break.
Average Social Media Interactions Per Episode: 2,028,000
If you need to know what all the biggest shows of the summer are going to be, head to our summer premiere schedule and take your picks.