The Most Popular Summer Shows

26 August, 2016

Photo: Mr. Robot, USA Network

Summer is winding down: as the Rio Olympics have come to a close, advertising for the upcoming fall shows has only increased. In between these events, summer television shows, which we define as series beginning in May-August, have been airing. From the usual broadcast reality shows like ABC’s The Bachelorette to Netflix’s premium dramas like The Get Down, nearly the full range of content is now available in what used to be the TV off-season. Which titles have done the best at capturing demand in the United States during the summer?

To evaluate these shows, we averaged the Demand Expressions™ for each by month, creating a top 10 list for May, June, July, and August. The titles are color-coded by the month in which they were released in order to track how demand for the most popular titles changed over time.

In May, the top summer title was actually Pretty Little Liars which only began its seventh season in the next month, June. This popularity may be due to marketing activities done in May, combined with the fact that the sixth season only ended in March 2016. Most of the other titles premiered their latest season in May, with Preacher as the only new title.

Many of the titles that began in May remain among the top 10 in June: as their seasons progressed, they grew in popularity. However, some May titles — Top Gear and Grace and Frankie — fell in popularity instead to be replaced by titles that premiered late in the month — Bloodline and Roots. The top shows, Pretty Little Liars and Orange is the New Black, are generally popular series that aired new episodes in June, resulting in them having nearly 30% more demand than the other summer titles.

Similarly, two July titles topped the list in that month. While Mr. Robot returned for a highly-anticipated second season, it was overtaken in popularity by Netflix’s latest hit, Stranger Things. Another new series, HBO’s The Night Of, was much less popular initially as it ranked 10th, behind titles released in previous months. Several May releases, which grew in demand since June, still appeared among the top 10, while the major June releases decreased in demand.

Few titles were released in August so the top shows to date were mostly titles from previous months that were still airing new episodes. The major exception was another Netflix hit, The Get Down, which was released on August 12th but already gained enough demand to enter the top 10. Only two shows appeared in the top over all four months: Preacher and Pretty Little Liars. While Pretty Little Liars reached its maximum popularity in July, when the new season premiered, the newcomer Preacher grew in demand month-by-month, an impressive feat for any show.

This summer has seen the return of many popular series and the premieres of several new hits. Many top shows, such as Wayward Pines, remained popular in the months following their release while others, such as Top Gear, were short-lived. Preacher and Netflix’s two new releases proved that hits can be launched at any time of year. We look forward to seeing which fall titles can challenge these shows’ popularity.

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