Last month, several popular TV shows got the axe - including Nashville, Agent Carter and Castle. Fans were outraged, and when outrage and fans come together, you get hashtags.
But which of these cancellations triggered the most outrage? And where? And with whom?
I was curious, I used social media monitoring tool Audiense to answer these burning questions.
Which cancellation generated the most outrage?
For all of these, I tracked use of the #Save[whatever] hashtag between 1 and 27 May.
The first thing that becomes immediately apparent is that Castle is waaaaaay out of its league.
#SaveCastle was valiantly tweeted and retweeted by 117 people, for a grand total of 560 tweets. #SaveNashville, on the other hand, was championed by by 5,000 people, for almost 20,000 tweets of country music lovin'. And #SaveAgentCarter had 8,800 tweeters and almost 40,000 tweets. Peggy's got a lot of friends.
But does Peggy have the right friends? Despite a substantial advantage in the volume of tweeters, Nashville had more friends in low high places. When you aggregate the total reach (that is, the aggregated followed count of everyone using the hashtag), #SaveNashville performs almost as well as #SaveAgentCarter.
That's measured in 000's, so #SaveNashville had a potential reach of 25m people and #SaveCarter by 29m. (By contrast, #SaveCastle had a potential reach of slightly over 500k. It just isn't playing in the same league.)
Where's this coming from? Well, both shows have some powerful friends. Here's a breakdown of the Twitter profiles that used the hashtags:
|Over 5k Followers||2||109||256|
|Over 100k Followers||0||11||8|
Peggy's got a lot of friends, but Reyna James' family - as we all know - is very well-connected. Nashville had more Twitter-verified fans and more fans in the exclusive 100k+ club. Fewer tweeters overall, but more in the right places.
Where are the fans coming from?
The tragic truth is that American television networks probably don't care too much about Twitter outrage in other, inferior countries. Soz, world.
So how much of this spontaneous outpouring of fan-love came from within the land of freedom and corn dogs?
Well, a lot of it. The big caveat here is that Twitter can be very iffy on location, as this particular measurement relies on people's profile information, and, as you know, folks like to put in weird stuff. (nb. The more accurate way to measure location is actually by time zone, but that's a lot more work than I'm willing to put into it.) So we're sort of taking people at face value here, but a) we're doing this as a relative comparison and b) it is a pretty chunky sample size, so I'm feeling ok about running with it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nashville has the most support from American tweeters - with 62.4% of tweets from inside the house. Castle sits at 41.5% and Agent Carter at 40%. Worth noting that Hayley Atwell's (universal) appeal includes her home turf, and Agent Carter has the highest percentage of British outragers, at 9.4%.
Agent Carter may have more outraged fans, but they're more widely distributed and, arguably, less powerful. Nashville may have fewer outraged fans, but they're the right kind of outraged fan: in the United States and with more followers. And Castle is... uh, Castle.
Of course, we're missing one key demographic element when it comes to network decision-making...
Yes, but they're all lady-fans, right?
Nashville and Agent Carter are similar in that they're both shows featuring, well... women. Which makes their simultaneous cancellation even more of a blow, especially set against a background of crap like this.
A special shout out to Castle, which fired its female co-star and has some special problems of its own.
So how female are these fandoms? Or, at least, those segments of the fandom that care enough to tweet their outrage?
Twitter is dodgy on gender recognition, so take this with a grain of salt - and as you'll see, there's a big ol' ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ segment that's not pictured. But with all that in mind, the results are still pretty interesting:
All three have a larger (identified-as-)female contingent than (identified-as-)male ones. But #SaveNashville has the most tweeters identified as female. Whereas #SaveAgentCarter not only has the fewest identified as female, but the most identified as male. Given the number of unknowns, the safest way to see this might be as a ratio:
All three are skewed - a balanced gender ratio would be 1.0. But #SaveCastle and #SaveNashville have over four times as many (gender-assigned-by-Twitter, outraged, tweeting using the proper hashtag) female fans as male ones. Whereas #AgentCarter is, although still skewed, a relatively more balanced 1.66. In all three cases, however, this could be read as part of a distressing pattern - three cancelled shows that all had predominantly female fan-bases.
So, what can we learn?
Relatively, I think this is pretty fascinating. The demographic, geographic and, uh, 'power' difference between the fan-bases helps tell an interesting story. Taken at face value, Nashville would seem to have pole position - something that the producers have already noted.
On an objective scale, however, we should take these as what they are - a tiny sample size of a vocal minority of a show's Twitter-using fans. Which in turn is merely a tiny segment of the show's overall viewership. Nashville averaged 4.1m viewers in its final season; Agent Carter averaged 2.6m viewers. While 8,800 hashtag users is genuinely impressive, that's still a teeny fraction of the show's actual viewers. On balance, neither of those viewing figures were deemed commercially viable: it'll undoubtedly take more than a few thousand passionate tweets to convince networks otherwise.