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the anticipation index

What’s the Most Anticipated New TV Show of Fall?

Last year's Lone Star tragedy was a painful reminder of just how unpredictable and, damn it, fickle television audiences can be. So, with a new slate of TV premieres just around the corner in September, let’s try to handicap their chances for success using Anticipation Index.

First of all, which new series have the most momentum going into this season? The Index answers pretty unequivocally: The X Factor, whose eventual success seems all but preordained (by common sense as well). It's been in or near the Anticipation Index top ten — that's top ten for everything, not just TV shows — since April, and reached a peak of 16,474 Twitter and blog hits in a day on May 26, the day after Cheryl Cole was kicked off the show as a judge.

After that, the field is relatively open, with various shows and networks fighting for attention near the top. Pan Am, The Playboy Club, American Horror Story, and Up All Night have all been buoyed in the last week or so by controversy and breaking news, and developed some traction in our top 25 list as a result, with Playboy Club currently in the lead. Late in the week, the CW's witch drama Secret Circle mounted a rise into the top ten, where it's stayed for a couple of days, putting it ahead of its former competitors, NBC's Whitney, Fox's Terra Nova, and the CW's Ringer.

Of course, controversy isn't quite the same as interest, and Pan Am and Playboy Club, the season's two period dramas, have each drawn fire for their retro attitudes toward women, with Playboy getting far more flack than Pan Am. These shows are getting talked about, but largely in a negative way. That may not translate to viewers. (Horror Story has drawn attention for ghost sex; whether that counts as good or bad is a matter of personal taste.) In contrast, Up All Night has been getting lots of positive social-media attention for the decision to expand Maya Rudolph's role, and it had been at a high level of interest on the Index from the start. Terra Nova has also been a consistent performer, despite having its premiere date pushed back months and months: With a legion of bereft and disappointed Lost fans waiting for another sci-fi adventure series, Terra has only to go out and claim its public.

Of course, controversy isn't quite the same as interest, and Pan Am and Playboy Club, the season's two period dramas, have each drawn fire for their retro attitudes toward women, with Playboy getting far more flack than Pan Am. These shows are getting talked about, but largely in a negative way. That may not translate to viewers. (Horror Story has drawn attention for ghost sex; whether that counts as good or bad is a matter of personal taste.) In contrast, Up All Night has been getting lots of positive social-media attention for the decision to expand Maya Rudolph's role, and it had been at a high level of interest on the Index from the start. Terra Nova has also been a consistent performer, despite having its premiere date pushed back months and months: With a legion of bereft and disappointed Lost fans waiting for another sci-fi adventure series, Terra has only to go out and claim its public.

First of all, which new series have the most momentum going into this season? The Index answers pretty unequivocally: The X Factor, whose eventual success seems all but preordained (by common sense as well). It's been in or near the Anticipation Index top ten — that's top ten for everything, not just TV shows — since April, and reached a peak of 16,474 Twitter and blog hits in a day on May 26, the day after Cheryl Cole was kicked off the show as a judge.

The Anticipation Index

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC, Matt Dinerstein/NBC, Jojo Whilden/The CW