Want to know how Netflix's revival of Arrested Development is being received? The series is trending ahead of AMC's Mad Men but behind HBO's Game of Thrones in discussion.
Want to know which Arrested Development episode from the new season, besides the premiere and finale, is commanding the most buzz? That would be the seventh, “Colony Collapse,” in which G.O.B. finds a new group of friends after his relationship falls apart and his family abandons him.
Want to know which characters from the latest season are being talked about by fans? Steve Holt and Lindsay Bluth Funke.
So says Wikia, the online fan community that counts some 75 million users. Executives at Wikia say they have sensed a need for information about the popularity of shows distributed on digital platforms like Netflix, Amazon and X-Box. So they're rushing to fill the vacuum with a new metric called the "WAM meter" that aims to provide analytics on the vibrancy of entertainment franchises.
Netflix is being programmed these days on algorithms that examine users' appetite for shows, genres and other elements, but the company only occasionally releases the information publicly. Other research firms like Nielsen are attempting to crack the online universe, but Nick Williams, marketing research director at Wikia, says the company has stumbled upon a new approach.
"WAM is calculated daily," he says. "The algorithm is based on three main pillars: Traffic, or page views; the engagement of the community, like the number of contributions and the type of content they are contributing; and thirdly, momentum and growth -- how much a franchise's community is growing and building."
According to WAM, the wiki audience for Arrested Development skews 70 percent male and 65 percent between the ages of 18 to 34, with the prime audiences coming from New York (4.2 percent), Chicago (1.9 percent), London (1.9 percent), Los Angeles (1.8 percent) and Toronto (1.4 percent).
WAM has been in beta for a year and while the website has published metrics for three months, much of the additional data has been held back. Wikia leaders say there are no plans to monetize the data yet and that the company will likely be rolling out more soon.
"We're sticking with the spirit of having a lot of free open information," says Williams, adding that Wikia "wants to be as transparent as we can about showing how shows like Arrested Development and House of Cards stack up against other shows."
The metrics are being used on shows delivered on traditional broadcast platforms, too. According to Wikia, series like Mad Men, Dexter and True Blood have been trending downwards on the WAM Meter while Game of Thrones and Walking Dead are now doing better than ever.
"WAM is a good indicator for the healthiness and vitality of a series," says Eric Moro, entertainment director at Wikia. He says that among the surprising results thus far is the continued success of a certain CBS series among its fan base. "Shows that are longer in the tooth usually wane in rankings, but with that said, How I Met Your Mother in its ninth season is still very strong."