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“Hamilton’s America”: A Snapshot of the Television, Digital & Social Media Audiences for a PBS Hit

2017 January 12
by Peter Hamilton

Hamilton’s America is a recent PBS documentary hit that sets helpful benchmarks for the U.S. public television audience.

The data also captures how PBS measures – and values – social media engagement.

Presented by WNET’s GREAT PERFORMANCES strand, Hamilton’s America features Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway super-hit Hamilton.

  • The feature-length documentary chronicles the life of Alexander Hamilton and the creative process behind Miranda’s work.
  • Miranda’s first job was an intern at WNET New York, which later presented his first special, In the Heights – Chasing Broadway Dreamsalso for GREAT PERFORMANCES.
  • Despite rocketing to stardom and wealth, Miranda is remarkably loyal to the local PBS station that gave him his start.

TV Ratings

  • The Friday night telecast of Hamilton’s America (10/21) posted a 2.46 household rating.
    • It was the #2 highest-rated PBS program of the season.
    • #1 was FRONTLINE’s pre-election special The Choice (2.58 on 9/27).
  • However, Hamilton ranked highest among most female age groups, including women overall, W18‐49, W25‐54 and W35‐64.
  • It also was #1 in Hispanic households.
  • P2 day+ delivery: >5 Mn.
  • Compared to all Friday night telecasts since the beginning of the 2015‐16 season, Hamilton ranked #2 behind MASTERPIECE THEATER’s Sherlock “The Abominable Bride.”

Digital

  • Digital streams of Hamilton’s America on web, mobile and OTT: 1.3 million (between 10/21/16 – 11/18/16).

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 1.56.48 PM

Social

  • Hamilton’s America was the #1 program on social media in its category for the day of broadcast. (See screenshot.)
  • 43.2K people were talking about Hamilton’s America on social (25.7K on Facebook and 17.5K on Twitter).
  • There were 228K total engagements with the program (149.6K on Facebook and 78.4K on Twitter).
  • The audience was 79% female.
  • #HamildocPBS was the #1 trending hashtag on Twitter internationally during the broadcast. “Peggy” trended nationwide at the end of the broadcast.
  • Source: PBS / Nielsen Social

Format

  • 82-minutes
  • Includes samples of 15+ of Hamilton’s 52 songs.

PBS Strategy

  • I spoke about Hamilton’s America at Science Producers Congress in Stockholm with PBS’s Beth Hoppe.
  • Beth’s title is PBS Chief Program Executive & General Manager, General Audience Programming.

PBS is constantly trying to push the envelope with our content and distribution. ‘Hamilton’s America on Great Performances’ was an online and on-air hit for us, as well as trended on social media. I’m extremely proud to be the home of this critically acclaimed documentary showcasing the amazing creative journey of Lin-Manuel Miranda documented by filmmaker Alex Horowitz. Beth Hoppe

PBS AUDIENCE SNAPSHOT

PBSAudience

  • PBS has recently average a 1.40 HH rating, which is 5% better than a year ago.
  • Viewers 18-49 show a much bigger increase, despite the small size of the group.
  • Ratings in PBS’s mainstay older (65+) demos are mostly flat.

PBS Digital

  • PBS Digital reached 22.9 million users in November 2016, +13% versus 2015.
  • Year-on-Year by Digital Platform:
    • Browser +13%
    • OTT (“Over-the-Top”) +11%
    • Mobile +16%.
  • Streams have grown 32% between 2013 and 2016:
    • In Nov 2013, 59% of streams were on browser vs. 48% in Nov 2016.
    • In Nov 2013, 17% were on OTT vs. 43% in Nov 2016.
    • In Nov 2013, 25% were on mobile vs. 9% in Nov 2016

From the Hamilton’s America Press Kit

“What makes the film so special and remarkable to me is that Alex has done something which I think is really difficult to achieve, and that is to shine a light on the creative process. Not only will audiences learn a great deal about the founding fathers, but how Lin turned history into great drama, no easy chore, and with some great music!”  Great Performances’ executive producer, David Horn

“When I started following Lin around, I didn’t know what Lin was making any more than he did.  And as David Horn mentioned, Lin had this sort of half-baked idea. It might be a concept album, it might be a show.  It was the time where he started using the term ‘show’ or ‘musical’ more often that I said, ‘look, I don’t know what you’re going to make, but let me follow you, doing it.’  I knew that the process film of it as Lin said, it’s not really behind the scenes so much.  Whatever that ended up being would be interesting, but no matter what that ended up being, I saw what he was doing to dramatize history, to musicalize history, to make history alive in a way I’d never seen before, and that that was the hook.  So wherever he ended up, however big the show ended up being, I knew that would function on its own, and we just kept our eye on that ball as we kept going, and as ‘Hamilton’ got even bigger and bigger.”  Director Alex Horwitz for Radical Media 

My Shared Gratitude With Lin-Manuel Miranda

  • I was a near-broke wetback from Melbourne, jobless after months of searching. I was ready to give up my dream of making something of New York.
  • WNET offered me work on The American City, an Annenberg-funded series hosted by New York mayor John Lindsay.
  • Years later, after a spell with CBS Enterprises, I established my consulting practice. WNET was my first client. That engagement was a strategic plan for WNET’s Enterprises group.
  • Now, 36 years later, I’m still here and ever-grateful to WNET, and particularly to David Rosen, Tim Gunn and Stephen Salyer.
  • For this Hamilton, WNET was “the room where it happened.”

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