Fizziology, a social media research firm that specializes in popular culture, has been tracking the social media conversation around “House of Cards” since its Feb. 1 debut. The project will continue for several more weeks, according to Ben Carlson, the firm’s president.
“Certainly, there was a spike on that Friday and Saturday [Feb. 1 and 2],” Carlson says. “But it has continued with a lot of conversation in social media since then, too. It wasn’t a one- or two-day wonder. It continues. One of the things you could see in the social conversation of the first weekend is people who were almost rushing to try and watch it before they had that deadline of the Super Bowl.”
Carlson says one of the ongoing dominant themes of the conversation involves people “almost bragging about where they are” in the series.
“For this show, there almost seems to be a competitive race angle where people want to say how far along they are in their viewing of the show,” he explains.
Concurrent with that is a new kind of “courtesy” with viewers “not wanting to talk about plot points or spoilers” because they don’t know where others are in their viewing.
Carlson calls it the “dance around recaps and spoilers.”
Viewers will give their opinion “of whether they liked it or not,” Carlson says, but they won’t “dive down into the specifics because no one wants to ruin it” for folks who may be on a different pace.
Indeed, the media themselves are uncertain as to how specific they should be in discussions of the show.
“It’s so unique,” he says, “because in this new world of social sharing of television and other entertainment forms, we’re used to being involved in a communal activity where we all watched the same episode of ‘Nashville’ or ‘Shameless.’ But this is the first time where everyone simultaneously has that ability to binge-view at their own pace, and I think it has the potential to really change the way people share their television viewing opinions and habits.”
It’s too early to make any definitive call about that yet, according to Carlson.
“I think as we get two or three weeks into it, it will be great to look at a graph to see if there is a point in time when people tended to finish the show,” he says. “When did the conversation start to taper off, and what does that say about the average pace at which someone went through all 13 episodes?”
For Hobby, the answer is: as quickly as he could.
“I finished about 13 waking hours after I started,” the blogger says. “I slept some, and I stole a few on Saturday. I’m just like a social ‘House of Cards’ watcher. I can quit whenever I want — or, when I get to 13, whichever comes last. But I love it. I thought it was Kevin Spacey’s best work since ‘American Beauty.’”