Emmys: Facebook Data Favors 'Breaking Bad,' 'Big Bang Theory' (Exclusive)

Issue 33 Breaking Bad Saul - H 2013

Issue 33 Breaking Bad Saul - H 2013

As we head into Emmys weekend, The Hollywood Reporter can exclusively report -- using data provided by Facebook -- detailed statistics about the apparent Emmy preferences of the millions of Facebook users who are based in Los Angeles and New York City, where most members of the TV Academy who decide the real results also live.

From Sept. 1-18, Facebook assessed the total number of mentions of each major-category nominee in both of those cities and then provided THR with a breakdown of those mentions by city, gender and age demographic. No other information about the Facebook users was provided. The assumption here is that most mentions are supportive, although it's certainly true that people sometimes post negative things on social media, as well.

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Needless to say, the overall rankings do not necessarily reflect the shows' or individuals' likelihood of taking home an Emmy on Sunday night. But the demographic breakdowns, described in the commentary section that accompanies each category's overall rankings, may be helpful in understanding where the various contenders' strongest bases of support exist.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Breaking Bad, (2) Homeland, (3) Game of Thrones, (4) House of Cards, (5) Mad Men, (6) Downton Abbey
New York City Rankings: same
Chatter on both coasts is focused most of all on AMC's Breaking Bad -- not surprisingly, since the final episodes of the show are airing and generating massive ratings, while much of Bad's competition last aired months ago. What's interesting to me is that, of the rest of the field, last year's winner, Showtime's Homeland, finished ahead of HBO's Game of Thrones, which scored higher ratings and more Emmy nominations this year, and House of Cards, which Netflix supported with a bigger awards campaign. Nobody can say with any degree of confidence which show will win this super-competitive category, but if Emmy voters are anything like the public, Breaking Bad is clearly top of mind right now.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) The Big Bang Theory, (2) Girls, (3) Louie, (4) Modern Family, (5) 30 Rock, (6) Veep
New York City Rankings: (1) The Big Bang Theory, (2) Girls, (3) Louie, (4) 30 Rock, (5) Modern Family, (6) Veep
Commentary: The results are almost identical on both coasts save for the slightly better showing of 30 Rock in its home-base of New York than in Los Angeles, where Modern Family is set and did slightly better. The Big Bang Theory was the highest-rated series on TV this year, so it's not a surprise to see it do so well here, nor is it unexpected to see strong showings from Girls and Louie, which resonate most with younger people, who still account for the biggest base of Facebook users. But what's hard to reconcile with most pundits' predictions is the bicoastal last-place showing of Veep. Will the TV Academy award an Emmy to a show that doesn't especially excite the public? We'll see.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, (2) House of Cards' Kevin Spacey, (3) The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels, (4) Mad Men's Jon Hamm, (5) Homeland's Damian Lewis, (6) Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville
New York City Rankings: same
Commentary: Three-time winner Cranston might well score a record-tying fourth win this year, but if he doesn't it's likely to be because of Spacey, who probably offers the groundbreaking House of Cards its best shot at recognition. Spacey, like Daniels, has the added benefit of being a movie star gracing TV with his presence, something Emmy voters historically love. Cranston's support among Facebook users is strongest among men between the ages of 25 and 34 -- but among the 50-and-over crowd in Los Angeles, which is probably most reflective of TV Academy members, Spacey finished ahead of him, even during this sizzling-hot period for Breaking Bad.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Louie's Louis C.K., (2) 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin, (3) House of Lies' Don Cheadle, (4) The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, (5) Arrested Development's Jason Bateman, (6) Episodes' Matt LeBlanc
New York City Rankings: (1) C.K., (2) Baldwin, (3) Parsons, (4) Cheadle, (5) Bateman, (6) LeBlanc
Commentary: This is an impressive showing for C.K., considering that his show reaches far fewer people than Baldwin's or Parsons' -- but it's conceivable that his numbers are skewed by mentions of him in conjunction with projects unrelated to his TV series (such as his comedy specials, etc.) and by the age of the average Facebook user. C.K.'s support in New York was driven by men between the ages of 25 and 34 and in L.A. by men between the ages of 35 and 44, demos that are probably less heavily represented in the TV Academy than the 50-and-over crowd -- which broke for Baldwin in both cities. Clearly, Baldwin, even in the final year of his show, still has a lot of support.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Scandal's Kerry Washington, (2) House of Cards' Robin Wright, (3) Homeland's Claire Danes, (4) Nashville's Connie Britton, (5) Bates Motel's Vera Farmiga, (6) Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, (7) Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery
New York City Rankings: (1) Washington, (2) Danes, (3) Wright, (4) Britton, (5) Dockery, (6) Moss, (7) Farmiga
Commentary: It is striking that Washington placed first on both coasts -- she is the first black nominee in this category in 18 years and could become its first-ever black winner -- although these numbers may overstate her chances because her show airs on ABC, a broadcast network that reaches far more people than all of her competitors' shows save for Britton's, which also airs on the Alphabet Network. Just as interestingly, Wright edged out last year's winner Danes among all Facebook users in L.A. -- and actually finished ahead of all of her competitors among L.A.-based Facebook users aged 50-and-over, the demo that probably accounts for most members of the TV Academy.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler, (2) 30 Rock's Tina Fey, (3) Girls' Lena Dunham, (4) Veep's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, (5) Enlightened's Laura Dern, (6) Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco
New York City Rankings: (1) Fey, (2) Dunham, (3) Poehler, (4) Louis-Dreyfus, (5) Dern, (6) Falco
Commentary: The discrepancy between Poehler's showings on the west and east coast is striking and hard to understand, unless one subscribes to the theory that New Yorkers have a particular affinity for the two nominees, Fey and Dunham, who portray fellow denizens of their city. In either case, Fey, who won this category five years ago, should not be underestimated for her show's final season. But it's conceivable that her former SNL costar Poehler, who has been a bridesmaid in this category each of the last three years, might finally get her moment at the altar.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, (2) Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, (3) Homeland's Mandy Patinkin, (4) Breaking Bad's Jonathan Banks, (5) Boardwalk Empire's Bobby Cannavale, (6) Downton Abbey's Jim Carter
New York City Rankings: (1) Paul, (2) Patinkin, (3) Dinklage, (4) Cannavale, (5) Banks, (6) Carter
Commentary: Paul looks poised to win for a second consecutive year and third time overall, but an upset could come from L.A.'s favorite, Dinklage, or New York's pick, Patinkin. Both of them are also past winners -- Dinklage for Thrones and Patinkin for Chicago Hope 18 years ago. Among Facebook users over the age of 50 -- which one can safely assume most Emmy voters are -- Patinkin actually beat Paul in New York, if not also in L.A. As a sidenote, it's kind of amusing that Cannavale's rough, tough-talking gangster was received better back east, where his show is set, than out west, where Banks' more mild-mannered bad guy, on an Albuquerque-set show, edged him out for fourth place.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) SNL's Bill Hader, (2) Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson, (3) Modern Family's Ed O'Neill, (4) Modern Family's Ty Burrell, (5) Veep's Tony Hale, (6) Girls' Adam Driver
New York City Rankings: (1) Hader, (2) Driver, (3) O'Neill, (4) Burrell, (5) Ferguson, (6) Hale
Commentary: This category produced some of the most interesting stats. At the Emmys, the Modern Family trio risk splitting their vote, which would pave the way for a surprise winner like Hader. With Facebook users, though, Hader prevailed -- on both coasts -- even without such an an advantage. It would be tempting to chalk up his high mentions-tally to the fact that SNL videos often go viral online -- but SNL wasn't even airing new episodes during the period of this Facebook study. A reason for caution about his prospects, though, might be the source of his Facebook support: it came on both coasts mostly from men between the ages of 25 and 34, and I'm fairly certain that that demo is not nearly as heavily represented among the TV Academy's membership. Meanwhile, the locals came out for their own: Driver did way better in New York than Los Angeles and Ferguson did way better in Los Angeles than New York.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Downton Abbey's Maggie Smith, (2) Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn, (3) Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, (4) Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke, (5) The Good Wife's Christine Baranski, (6) Homeland's Morena Baccarin
New York City Rankings: same
Commentary: Even if most Facebook users are considerably younger than she is, 78-year-old Smith, who has won this category each of the last three years, has user buzzing more about her than her much younger competitors. (Her New York support was driven by women between the ages of 35 and 44, whereas her L.A. support was driven by women between the ages of 55 and 64.) The person in the best position to pull off an upset is probably Gunn, as reflected here, but I'm not sure that even Breaking Bad's coattails could carry her past Smith, whose personal popularity vastly exceeds her show's, based on Downton's results in other categories.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Glee's Jane Lynch, (2) Modern Family's Sofia Vergara, (3) The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik, (4) Modern Family's Julie Bowen, (5) 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski, (6) Veep's Anna Chlumsky, (7) Nurse Jackie's Merritt Wever
New York City Rankings: (1) Vergara, (2) Lynch, (3) Bialik, (4) Krakowski, (5) Bowen, (6) Chlumsky, (7) Wever
Commentary: Okay, so try to follow this: Lynch got the most overall mentions among Facebook users in Los Angeles, but Vergara beat her among L.A.'s 50-and-over demo, which is probably the one most reflective of the TV Academy's membership. But while Vergara prevailed in New York, she placed second in the 50-and-over vote there behind -- you guessed it -- Lynch! While it's unclear whether the Facebook edge should go to Lynch, who won this category three years ago, or Vergara, who has never won it, one thing is clear: last year's winner, Vergara's co-star Bowen, appears to be way behind the two of them on both coasts.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) American Horror Story: Asylum, (2) Behind the Candelabra, (3) Phil Spector, (4) Top of the Lake, (5) Political Animals
New York City Rankings: (1) American Horror Story: Asylum, (2) Phil Spector, (3) Top of the Lake, (4) Behind the Candelabra, (5) Political Animals
Commentary: American Horror Story probably benefits from being a mini-series with several installments (which aired between Oct. 2012 and Jan. 2013), as opposed to a one-off movie like much of the rest of its competition. It's nevertheless strange to see Behind the Candelabra, the presumptive frontrunner, so far behind in New York. Then again, if this study was conducted back in May, when Candelabra first aired on HBO, the chatter surrounding it would undoubtedly be greater. And HBO has done its darndest to revive that chatter where it matters most: among actual Emmys voters.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) Dancing with the Stars, (2) So You Think You Can Dance, (3) The Voice, (4) Project Runway, (5) Top Chef, (6) The Amazing Race
New York City Rankings: (1) Dancing with the Stars, (2) The Voice, (3) So You Think You Can Dance, (4) Project Runway, (5) Top Chef, (6) The Amazing Race
Commentary: Well, the public certainly likes its song and dance shows -- that much is clear. And the bicoastal Facebook winner, Dancing with the Stars, was propelled to its perch on both coasts mostly by women aged 55 to 64, which sounds like the Emmy voter age demo to me. But the most interesting thing about these numbers, to me, is the fact that The Amazing Race, which airs on a broadcast network, CBS, and has won this category's Emmy in 9 of the 10 years in which it has been presented, attracted considerably less interest, on both coasts, than all of its competitors. One thing that Facebook does not take into consideration, though, is the way in which Emmy voters adjudicate these races, or are supposed to: by evaluating a single episode of each show. That plays to TAR's advantage and its competitors' disadvantage, since each and every episode of TAR, unlike the other shows, features an independent and full dramatic story-arc, which helps voters to quickly understand what the show is all about.


Los Angeles Rankings: (1) The Colbert Report, (2) SNL, (3) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, (4) Jimmy Kimmel Live, (5) Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, (6) Real Time with Bill Maher
New York City Rankings: (1) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, (2) SNL, (3) The Colbert Report, (4) Jimmy Kimmel Live, (5) Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, (6) Real Time with Bill Maher
Commentary: What's most eye-grabbing about these results is the possibility, suggested by the L.A. numbers, that The Daily Show, which has won this category every year since 2003, might be vulnerable this year -- to a show that it spawned, no less, Colbert. Both were driven to their respective first-place showings by men between the ages of 45 and 54 -- but Colbert actually beat Stewart among the 50-and-over crowd on both coasts. Is this a byproduct of Stewart turning over hosting duties to John Oliver for a large chunk of Emmy season in order to go and shoot a movie, while Colbert remained in his chair? Could be.

Follow Scott on Twitter for additional news and analysis: @ScottFeinberg