This story first appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
ABC's Scandal is experiencing a sophomore growth spurt -- and Twitter might be the reason.
Shonda Rhimes' drama, starring Kerry Washington as a D.C. political fixer, has taken over the social media platform every Thursday this season, with the Jan. 31 episode generating more than 2,200 tweets a minute and five worldwide trending topics. The entire cast has contributed to the effort, live-tweeting during episodes using the #AskScandal hashtag and generating such story-driven tags as #WhoShotFitz and #WhatTheHuck.
"Everybody is super-involved and willing to do whatever it takes to make this show work," Rhimes tells THR. "People heard about the show from other people -- Oprah Winfrey heard about it from Twitter -- and that got other people watching. That really helped us."
The strategy is working: Original episodes of Scandal are averaging a 3.1 rating this season, up 19 percent in the key adults 18-to-49 demographic, en route to overtaking CBS' Elementary at 10 p.m. Thursdays. And the trajectory is upward: The Jan. 31 episode delivered its best retention of lead-in Grey's Anatomy to date, holding 96 percent in the 18-to-49 metric as it threatens to surpass Rhimes' longtime ratings champ.
ABC, meanwhile, has fully embraced the Twitter strategy, promoting the #AskScandal phenomenon into its on-air promos (below) for the drama.