Earlier this year the internet went crazy for beautiful charts of IMDB ratings for episodes of TV shows over time, which showed when your favourite shows peaked. Created by data visualisation guru Kevin Wu, Graph TV is fun to explore for a few minutes, and it’s also surprisingly useful.
I’ve found myself checking Graph TV before starting any new show. Sure, I could find ratings directly on IMDB or elsewhere, but Graph TV offers a simple user interface, and its graphs are a fun and useful way to see how a show will play out.
The site is even more useful when you are uncertain about whether to continue watching a flagging show.
After a string of bad episodes in the second season of “Dollhouse,” for instance, Graph TV convinced me to ride out an upward trend.
Likewise, after a low point in the third new season of “Doctor Who,” Graph TV convinced me to hunker down and wait for it to get much better.
In an email to Business Insider, Wu pointed to “Breaking Bad” as one of the coolest graphs: “It seems to just get better within each season and season by season.”
How could you not want to watch this?
In contrast, Wu noted gradual declines on “The Simpsons”: “It’s marked how the show is decreasing in quality. There’s a point between season 14 and 15 where it went from sporadic episodes being better than the average, to episodes sporadically being below the average.”
Wu is working on adding even more data, he tells Business Insider — and for the foreseeable future, he’s doing all of this for free:
I have no plans for monetization, but am planning a redesign and new functionality. One thing I’d really love is viewership data. I’ve attempted to reach out to people at Nielsen since they seem to have the most data, but have been unsuccessful. I’m also attempting to add a portion where teachers can use the data to teach students about linear regression. Some teachers have contacted me saying thinking that it would be a good way to use data to educate. However all this is bottlenecked at the amount that I can finish in a day, it’s too bad I don’t have more time to work on it day to day.