Changes in Opinion for House of Cards, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, & Workaholics

One of the coolest things about Ranker is the fact that Ranker votes are recorded in real time as they happen, allowing the potential for it to track changes in people’s opinions. A list like, “The Best Shows Currently on Air” generates heavy traffic due to the popularity of television shows on air and online. A certain television show can amass an impressive, almost cult-like, following and it’s interesting to see how public opinions change over time, why, and if it corresponds to changes happening in the real-world.

The figure below shows the pattern of change in the proportion of up-votes for the TV shows in this list, and highlights four shows: House of Cards, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Workaholics.

tv_show_house_of_cards_change

There is a steep decline in the proportion of up votes in December of 2013 for the House of Cards. Interestingly, this was during an interim period between seasons where seemingly nothing significant relating to the show was occurring. A plausible explanation could be due to a ceiling effect as there were few up votes and no down votes until that time. When a show first gets on a Ranker list, it often is only voted on by the fans of that show. As the show is only accessible through Netflix, the viewing audience is significantly smaller than cable or network Television shows, so that may further skew the number of people who knew enough about the show to consider downvoting it. Fascinatingly enough, in the same month, during a televised meeting with tech industry CEOs on NSA surveillance, President Obama expressed his love for the show stating “I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,” adding that Rep. Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, “is getting a lot of stuff done”. Could the increase in downvotes be due to certain members of the public expressing their opinions about the President through the voting patterns on The House of Cards on Ranker?
The entire second season of The House of Cards was released on February 14th on Netflix in the same binge-watching format as the first season, which garnered positive reviews. Interestingly, there is a significant decline in proportion of up votes for The House of Cards from February 2014 to April 2014, however viewership of season two was much higher than season one based on early reviews. The show also garnered critical acclaim for season two earning thirteen Primetime Emmy Award nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, and three nominations at both the 72nd Golden Globe Awards and the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards. Given the viewership ratings and critical success, it may seem surprising to see such a steep drop in votes. But in looking at Ranker data, it is often common for shows to get more downvotes over time as they get better known, as people rarely downvote things they haven’t heard of, even as a show also receives more upvotes. This is why our algorithms take into account both the volume and proportion of upvotes vs. downvotes.
Shows that are more readily accessible may exhibit less of a ceiling effect early on, as there is a greater likelihood of people watching the show who aren’t specifically looking for it. Looking at Mad Men and The Walking Dead, there is a steady increase in up-vote proportion over the span that votes were submitted from June 2013 to last month, April 2015. The Walking Dead is the most watched drama series telecast in basic cable history, making it reasonable to assume that the reason for the continual increases are due to the increasing number of fans of the show who vote for it as the “Best Show Currently on Air”. Mad Men fans had similar voting patterns.

For a show like Workaholic, which airs on Comedy Central, there is a significantly smaller viewing audience compared to national networks, and they do not have the fanbase power of House of Cards or The Walking Dead. However, it is a show with positive reviews and a steady following of loyal fans. Though it is not as popular as other shows airing, it’s proven to be a show with comedic talent that generates positive sentiments amongst its viewers and a growing proportion of up-votes.
While these examples are only suggestive, the enormous number of votes made by Ranker uses, and the variety of topics they cover, makes the possibility of measuring opinions, and detecting and understanding change in opinions, an intriguing one that is worth continuing to expand upon.
-Emily Liu