Social TV Smack-down: Mad Men Vs. Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones and Mad Men

So Exciting! Images via HBO, AMC

April has been a thrilling month for TV viewers: the dark days of winter re-runs are behind us and new episodes of favorite shows can be seen once again. Notably, it has brought the highly anticipated returns of dramas Mad Men and Game of Thrones, fans of which have been waiting a long time (Mad men last aired in October 2010, Game of Thrones ended June 2011) and tend to be pretty social media savvy. In an interesting scheduling move, both shows air back to back on their respective networks, with Game of Thrones at 9 on HBO and Mad Men at 10 on AMC.

With so much anticipation each Sunday, discerning fans are faced with a difficult choice: which show to discuss online? In terms of actual television viewership, Game of Thrones seems to be champion. Does it follow that it is also the leader in social? Madison Ave or Westeros: which realm dominates the keyboards of America (and beyond)?

Social stats: both shows have active Facebook and Twitter accounts; Game of Thrones has a Twitter following of over 300,000 and Mad Men has over 90,000 followers. They vary on social strategies, Game of Thrones presenting an aggressive effort and an engaging website (with maps!) and Mad Men, perhaps a bit less eager to impress as it begins its 5th season, has a serviceable website with games, forums, and video extras.

While excitement has been building for a while, it seemed to hit online (and real world!) fever-pitch as the premieres approached. How did the shows stack up? Luckily, I didn’t have to wonder long. Using Visible Intelligence, we can see the volume of social conversation for the 7 days running up to each show’s respective premiere. Both shows experienced a growth of conversation and a spike on the day of the premiere:

Premiere social volume, Game of Thrones and Mad Men

Interestingly, Mad Men found a higher volume of conversation the day after it aired, while Game of Thrones was discussed at a much higher rate on the day of its premiere. While it looks like volume is comparable for the two shows, actual share of voice has Game of Thrones coming out ahead when comparing discussion of the show’s premiere:

Share of Voice: Game of Thrones and Mad Men

Premiere Share of Voice: Game of Thrones takes the crown

Taking it one step further, we can zoom into sentiment around each show’s premiere episode:

Sentiment for Game of Thrones, Mad Men Premieres

Removing neutral comments, Mad Men (top) had a greater disparity between positive and negative sentiment, while Game of Thrones was very close, with almost equal volume of negative and positive sentiment.

Diving deeper into what people were saying, we can get to the fun stuff and see what top negative terms were leading up to both episodes:

Negative Sentiment Game of Thrones and Mad Men

Prominent Negative-Sentiment Themes

This is where internet trends get really interesting. Each show has some wacky phrases on the term list, which, when looked into, can give insight into who is talking about these shows and how.  Top negative mentions under Mad Men relate to Kim Kardashian and a disparaging comment Mad Men lead Jon Hamm made about her. Many tweets anticipating Game of Thrones joked about the fact that the show’s premiere was set for April 1– April Fool’s Day—and show enthusiasts feared an elaborate joke:

Game of Thrones tweets

Since the premieres, where Mad Men seemed close to holding its own, Game of Thrones buzz has grown: a snap-shot look at share of voice for each following Sunday shows that Mad Men (red) has pretty steadily held on to around a quarter of online share of voice, while Game of Thrones(blue) consistently takes the majority:

April results

Consecutive Sunday Share of Voice, April 8-29

As of now, Game of Thrones is the winner of the web as well as the air. But will interest wane as the season progresses? We will stay tuned to see how the two popular shows compare!

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