Shondaland Premieres Win Competitive Thursday Night Battle

On a night that featured Thursday Night Football (NY Giants @ Washington) and Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium, legendary show-runner Shonda Rhimes led ABC to a victory in both Nielsen ratings and emotional reactions on Twitter.

Last Thursday, ABC aired the season premieres of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, as well as the series premiere of How to Get Away With Murder. Shondaland, Rhimes's production company, produces all three shows.

Shondaland producers, talent, and fans, are known for leading the industry in social TV. We took to Canvs to understand which moments, characters, and Twitter strategies were the most powerful throughout the night.

Shondaland vs. Football

There were more emotional reactions during each hour of ABC’s lineup than there were during each hour of Thursday Night Football. In fact, there were more emotional reactions during Scandal than there were during the entire three hours of Thursday Night Football.

From 8:00pm to 11:00pm, ABC’s branded hashtag of the night #TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) reeled in over 21,000 emotional reactions and over 88,000 total tweets. Shonda Rhimes (@ShondaRhimes) was mentioned in over 7,500 emotional reactions and over 27,000 total tweets during the three-hour period.

Grey’s Anatomy Rekindles Love And Excitement For Season 11

Grey’s started the night off strong, with 36% of emotional reactions expressing “love” for the show, while 18% said they were “excited” for the episode.

Grey’s Anatomy’s owned Twitter strategy was a huge success, with 45% of emotional reactions during airtime mentioning #GreysAnatomy, #GreysAnatomySeason11 or @GreysABC (the show’s official Twitter handle). 27% of reactions during airtime mentioned #TGIT.

Shonda Rhimes overshadowed the rest of the talent on Twitter, attracting 18% of emotional reactions during Grey’s airtime. Ellen Pompeo (@EllenPompeo) and Sara Ramirez (@SaraRamirez) were the most frequently mentioned cast members, each appearing in 6% of emotional reactions during airtime. 77% of tweets mentioning @EllenPompeo and 70% of tweets mentioning @SaraRamirez expressed either “love” or “happiness”.

Scandal, Or, How Mellie Stole the Show

Scandal kept up the momentum from Grey’s, with 34% of emotional reactions expressing “love” and 17% claiming to be “excited” for the show’s return.

The social success of Scandal is a testament to the #WhereIsOlivia teasers ABC aired throughout the summer. #Scandal and #ScandalThursday were mentioned in 43% of emotional reactions during airtime, and #TGIT was mentioned in 15% of emotional reactions during airtime.

Mellie Grant, Scandal’s First Lady, resonated with viewers on an emotional level.  Her appearance as a distraught mother mourning the loss of her son, instead of the usual power-hungry First Lady, led to a spike in “sad” and “wtf” reactions from 9:30pm-9:35pm.

Mellie was mentioned in 12% of reactions overall, making her the second-most discussed character after Olivia Pope (13%). Viewers also reacted strongly to Mellie’s closing monologue, deeming it “funny.”

Viola Davis’s One-Woman Premiere

The series premiere of How To Get Away With Murder enticed viewers immediately. Within the show’s first 15 minutes, 13% of reactions announced that people were “hooked.”

Viola Davis (@ViolaDavis), the show’s A-list leading lady, captivated viewers throughout the premiere. Davis alone drove 9% of reactions, more than any other actor or character. The next most frequently mentioned character was Wes Gibbons, who came in at a mere 1%.

Even though the show’s name can be a mouthful to speak, let alone to tweet, #HowToGetAwayWithMurder and #HTGAWM combined were used in 70% of emotional reactions. #TGIT came in second, appearing in 13% of emotional reactions.

Although season premieres tend to drive the most buzz, the Thursday night competition is not going anywhere. We will be keeping a close eye on the effectiveness of Shondaland’s Twitter strategy. For now, all we know for sure is that the fun will begins again tonight. #TGIT.

Tweet Source: Nielsen. Relevant Tweets captured from three hours before, during, and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, local time