National Geographic’s Breakthrough heat map

Our Work

For National Geographic Channel’s upcoming high-profile premiere, “Breakthrough”, a six episode mini-series covering the latest advances in science and medicine, We Are Social NY wanted to create a socially-driven experience that showcased the volume of conversation around each episode’s topics.

So we created the “Breakthrough” Heat Map:

Using social listening, we found there are millions of tweets about the shows’ topics annually, and wanted to create an experience that reflected just that. We partnered with CartoDB, a data visualization startup, to create the heat map. The map is an interactive global conversation tracker, which aggregates tweets about each of the show’s episode topics, and uses Twitter’s geo-tagging capabilities to show their origin. The map updates in real-time, displaying tweets from the prior hour, and enabling viewers to engage with individual tweets.


To create the map, our Research & Insight team created queries around each episode’s theme, scientific partners, and directors. Each episode takes an in-depth look at scientific breakthroughs as they unfold, across topics such as: Pandemics, Cyborgs, Memory, the Aging Brain, Water Apocalypse and Energy on the Edge. Each groundbreaking episode is also directed by A-List talent such as Ron Howard, Paul Giamatti, Angela Bassett, Brett Ratner, Peter Berg, and Akiva Goldsman.

To date, we have pulled in over 62,000 tweets from all over the globe, and we were recognized by MediaPost for our part in the heat map!

The “Breakthrough” finale airs Sundays 12/13 at 9:00 pm ET on the National Geographic Channel in 440 million homes, 171 countries and in 45 languages.