David 12 Dec 2005 from the hollywood reporter Web study finds NBC's 'Earl' abuzz By Paul Bond NBC's "My Name Is Earl" is typically the highest-rated new show on television among the targeted demographic of 18- to 49-year-olds. But is it enjoying the best so-called "buzz"? It is, and the show getting the next-best buzz, a seemingly intangible metric, is Fox's "Prison Break" from Fox. Getting the worst buzz -- before they were canceled -- was NBC's "Inconceivable" followed by Fox's "Head Cases." Such are the findings from research firm Brandimensions, which used its proprietary technology to gather written comments from Internet chat rooms, message boards, blogs and the like in order to determine which new shows boast the best -- and worst -- buzz. "Earl," though, didn't prevent NBC rival CBS from ranking "best-in-class" for its slate of new shows overall, according to the 73-page report due out today. The eye network garnered especially strong buzz for the shows "How I Met Your Mother," "Ghost Whisperer" and "Threshold." ABC generated "below average sentiment for its new shows," according to the report, despite the success of "Commander in Chief," deemed the seventh-best generator of positive buzz. "Earl" bested all 31 new shows studied by Brandimensions by commanding a 4.41 out of a possible 5 "sentiment score," which is determined by comparing positive to negative remarks about a given TV program. "The majority of viewers have nothing negative to say" about "Earl," the report indicated, and after it premiered, "audience expectations were exceeded and viewers quickly became invested in the show." If there was a pattern to the remarks made by those critical of "Earl," it was that they didn't care for its "redneck" humor. But sentiments like "They nailed the trailer-trash stuff perfectly," were far more reflective of the buzz surrounding the show. "There hasn't been a bad episode yet, and most are laugh-out-loud funny," one amateur critic proclaims. Star Jason Lee "is funny in everything he does," writes another. In its study, Brandimensions used not only technology but also human intelligence to review 395,000 relevant online sources, eventually narrowing down the sample size to 6,497 comments. Brandimensions CEO Bradley Silver said that his firm could have predicted the fate of "Head Cases" early on because in the early days of the marketing campaign, before the show ever aired, it was tracking very low. "Love, Inc.," on the other hand, is a low-rated show from UPN that scored low on the Brandimensions scale during the marketing campaign but has gained steam, climbing from last to No. 26. "It has found a small but loyal audience and is trending upward," Silver said. "UPN would do well to keep it on the air." Silver uses his firm's data to offer advice about more shows, like "Break," which he said sometimes engages too much melodramatic dialogue. "Viewers will put up with that for a limited time, but Fox should be careful about which direction they take the show." Silver said that for "How I Met Your Mother," "It's pretty basic. Get rid of the laugh track." And for "Everybody Hates Chris," he suggests UPN "make it less the 'Wonder Years' and more Chris Rock-ish." CBS executive vp research and planning David Poltrack said he used data supplied by Brandimensions during the midcampaign summer months to tweak the network's promotional activities concerning what were its soon-to-air new shows. "We always knew -- and it's true of any new product -- that what makes them succeed is word-of-mouth, which is hard to measure," he said. "With the Internet, we can eavesdrop on the conversation."