Hate Drives TV Viewers to Return to Shows, New Study Finds

New Canvs study of Twitter reactions to TV shows that hate is one of the most powerful emotions driving TV viewership

Hate-watching is a real phenomenon, at least according to a new analysis of Twitter behavior.

A new study released by the analytics company Canvs examined the correlation between the emotional reaction of TV viewers on Twitter and the show’s viewership. The results show that hate is one of the most powerful factors in driving audiences to watch a show.

Using TV-related Twitter data from Nielsen, Canvs studied audience reactions to nearly six thousand episodes of TV across genres and networks — including HBO, home of hits such as “Game of Thrones,” as well as broadcast networks like CBS and ABC. In total, 5,709 episodes of 431 comedy, reality and drama series that aired between January 2014 and June 2015 were included in the study.

Twitter reactions were sorted into emotional categories such as “hate,” “love,” “funny” and “beautiful.” The response was then measured against the viewership of the following episode.

The study found that every 1 percent increase in “hate” in the reaction to an episode of TV results in a 0.7 percent increase in viewership for the following episode, indicating that hate is by far the most powerful emotion driving TV watchers.

The study also found that “funny” is not the most significant factor in comedy viewership. “Love” and “beautiful” are the biggest indicators of whether viewership will go up or down in the next episode.

The chart below shows how different emotions affected TV viewership in three categories: Comedy, reality and drama.

Twitter TV viewership Study