Quiz time: which network has won more Emmy Awards than any other network in American television history? If you guessed NBC Entertainment (probably because the title of this post gave it away), you’re right. The NBC Universal-owned subsidiary is known for producing hit scripted shows such as Will & Grace, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, The Blacklist, Days of Our Lives, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the more recent This Is Us. However, when it comes to its social video strategy, NBC Entertainment (NBCE) has its reality and unscripted series to thank for its millions of views each month.
In the last year alone, for example, NBCE has pulled in more than 9.3 billion views across its properties’ Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram accounts; the majority of these views come from the network’s daytime, evening, and talk shows, such as America’s Got Talent and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Content surrounding these and other unscripted television titles have clearly struck a chord with online video audiences, so I thought we should use some of Tubular’s exclusive data to take a deep dive into NBCE’s top-performing social videos. Check it out:
Before I even delved into Tubular’s software, I assumed evening talk show host Jimmy Fallon would be the one to rake in on the views on his wildly popular YouTube channel. I almost couldn’t go a week without seeing the latest skit or musical number uploaded to this outlet. But as the saying goes, looks can be deceiving, and that was certainly the case when I discovered the top two most-watched videos of all time across all of NBC Entertainment properties came from its America’s Got Talent (AGT) Facebook account.
The first of these clips — both the most-watched and most-engaged with of all NBCE social video channels ever — is a video from May 2017 featuring a 12-year-old ventriloquist artist and her rabbit puppet, an act which judge Simon Cowell called “unforgettable.” And unforgettable it was: so many people couldn’t help but watch eventual season 12 winner Darci Lynne Farmer make her rabbit sidekick sing that the video has hit more than 184 million views to date. The clip also scored an average 30-day (V30) view count of 168 million, a much higher-than-average 30-day engagement rate (ER30) of 1.6x, and roughly 6.9 million engagements on Facebook alone! It seems skill combined with the dreams of children melts the hearts of viewers around the world.
The second most-watched clip from America’s Got Talent wasn’t too far behind Miss Farmer’s at 143 million total views. This segment highlighted 29-year-old singer Mandy Harvey, who lost her hearing at age 18 but taught herself how to get back into music through a variety of muscle memory, visual aids, and sensory feelings. Harvey’s impressive, on-pitch performance pulled in a V30 of 130 million, an ER30 of 1.6x, and over 5.1 million engagements on Facebook. This ER30 was the second-highest of all AGT videos, just behind the clip with Farmer and her rabbit.
AGT also boasts NBCE’s 10th most popular video of all time, which features 12-year-old ukulele player Grace VanderWaal (what is it with 12-year-olds on this show?). This clip has 84 million views and an ER30 of 1.5x, about the same engagement rate of the show’s most-watched clips ever. This engagement was also nearly replicated on a similar video hosted on the AGT Facebook page, which saw 79.4 million views an a 1.4x ER30, making it the 6th most-engaged video across NBCE properties. Clearly, viewers have a fascination with the extraordinary acts performed by contestants on America’s Got Talent, and as long as the show continues to attract such remarkable people, NBCE can likely expect to see numbers similar to these on its social video content in the future.
NBCE launched The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon YouTube channel way back in 2012. For years, the peacock network used this channel to host highly viewed clips from Fallon’s celebrity interviews, skits, and musical numbers. NBCE also launched a coordinating Facebook page for The Tonight Show a few years later in February 2014. Both outlets have paid off incredibly well for the show and its parent network in terms of views and engagements.
For starters, out of all NBCE social video accounts, Fallon’s Facebook page and YouTube channel boast six out of the top ten most-watched clips since Tubular started collecting data. The Tonight Show’s Facebook page in particular claims the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 10th most-engaged videos of all time across NBCE video profiles. Additionally, the 3rd, 4th, and 6th most-watched videos hail from the evening show’s Facebook account, and include:
- “Jimmy Fallon, Metallica & The Roots Sing ‘Enter Sandman’” – 141 million total views, 99.3 million V30, 1.4x ER30, 4.3 million engagements, and the 3rd most-engaged video of all time across NBCE properties
- “Lip Sync Battle with Melissa McCarthy” – 125 million total views, 68.9 million V30, 1.4x ER30, 3.3 million engagements, and the 4th most-engaged video of all time across NBCE properties
- “Donald Trump Calls Madea” – 95.6 million total views, 77.1 million V30, 1.3x ER30, 3 million engagements, and the 5th most-engaged video of all time across NBCE properties
As for Fallon and The Tonight Show’s YouTube channel, that outlet provides NBCE with its 5th, 8th, and 9th most-watched videos to date (though some are too old to include all of Tubular’s tracking metrics):
- “Wheel of Musical Impressions with Ariana Grande” – 114 million views, 23.1 million V30, 1x ER30, and 1.3 million engagements
- “Lip Sync Battle with Emma Stone” – 89.4 million views and 752K engagements
- “Daniel Radcliffe Raps Blackalicious’ ‘Alphabet Aerobics’” – 84.7 million views and 1.3 million engagements
From these titles and numbers, it’s obvious that what works for Fallon is a mixture of musical numbers and skits, famous celebrities, and comedy. Include all of these, or even parts of them, and audiences will tune in without question. Fortunately for NBCE, it doesn’t look like Fallon plans to change the format of his hit evening show segments anytime soon.
The Popularity of NBCE Videos Doesn’t Stop There
While AGT and The Tonight Show clearly dominate NBCE’s social video content, a few notable properties also cropped up here and there in my Tubular software search after adjusting the time frame for uploads:
World of Dance — The YouTube channel of dance competition World of Dance claims a video which is one of the top ten most-watched videos for all NBCE properties. At #7, The Royal Family dance crew’s performance drew in 94 million total views and an ER30 of 1.6x. This show also landed in the top 20 NBCE videos over the past year, with a can’t-take-your-eyes-off dance performance from Fik-Shun landing at #13 with 37.4 million views.
Little Big Shots – This show, hosted by Steve Harvey, has the 7th most-engaged video of all time across NBCE content. Even though it’s now removed, the clip that previously featured a 5-year-old math genius 69.1 million views and ER30 of 1.4x. In Tubular searches for NBCE content within the last 30-90 days, it seems Little Big Shots videos tend to get their most views in this time period; five of the top ten NBCE videos from the last 90 days hail from this variety show! The show also appears four times in the top ten most-watched videos of the past year.
This Is Us – Speaking of the 30- to 90-day window, NBCE’s hit drama show This Is Us has done well for itself recently. Despite the show’s season two conclusion in March 2018, NBCE has managed to keep the attention of online video viewers by uploading a “we’re back in the fall” trailer. Uploaded on May 14, 2018, this clip got 18.4 million total views to make it the third most-watched video in the last 90 days across NBCE properties. How much do you want to bet people will be tuning into not just the season 3 premiere date, but the other trailers and teaser NBCE decides to release as lead-ins to that date?
And the Takeaway Is…
So what can we learn from all this data? For starters, it’s clear NBCE’s digital audiences around the world are highly engaged with its content across its multiple platforms (read: the network boasts a highly-engaged, multi-platform strategy). As we saw above, most ER30s of the network’s top clips are higher than the baseline average of 1x, and these clips also generate thousands to millions of engagements. Views are obviously important to a degree, but overall, it seems the quality of NBCE content is not only what keeps audiences watching, but also interacting on a regular basis.
Additionally, there’s a lesson here for other networks and media brands. They certainly have an opportunity to create their own content around these NBCE shows, such as interviews or behind-the-scenes featurettes, which seems like it would be a win-win situation for both the brand involved and NBCE. Other networks and media companies can also take a cue from NBCE in terms of making sure to upload wildly popular or viral scenes from their own linear programming to related social video outlets to capitalize on those moments digitally, as well.
In the end, NBC Entertainment may have won the most Emmys of any linear television network to date, but it certainly doesn’t fall short in the digital video arena, either. With billions of views per year and millions of views each month, NBCE has successfully made the transition to digital and has worked hard to create one of the most impressive, engaging social video strategies of any traditional TV network to date.