Cable networks, and brands with significant ownership in cable programmers, comprised nine of the top 25 social U.S. brands last year as social engagement climbed 108% overall, according to market research firm Sharablee.
National Geographic, with stakes in National Geographic Channel and NatGeo Wild, took the top spot in the 2014 ranking, with 579 million total actions -- defined as likes, comments, shares, retweets and favorites -- across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (where it ranked No. 1 with its photo-sharing feed).
Major league sports brands took the next three spots in social media with the National Basketball Association at No. 2, generating 430 million actions; the National Football League, No. 3, with nearly 300 million actions; and Major League Baseball, No. 4, with some 253 million actions.
Other cable programmers in the top 25 included WWE, No. 6, with 195 million social actions; Fox News, No. 7, with 154 million actions; E! Online, the network's website, at No. 12, with 112 million actions; MTV, No. 13, with 110 million actions; and BET, No. 23, with 76 million actions.
The 25 brands on the list generated a total of 42 billion social actions in 2014, including 25 billion on on Facebook, 2 billion on Twitter and 15 billion on Instagram, Sharablee said.
"The social media marketplace saw huge shifts in 2014, with many brands moving towards measuring audience impressions, clicks, and thinking cross-platform," Tania Yuki, Shareablee's CEO and founder, said, noting that video was the biggest growth area, up 147 percent in 2014. For example, Twitter Video engagement grew 963 percent, she said.
"We also saw huge enthusiasm for social click-throughs this past year with some social native publishers seeing up to 425 percent growth in referral traffic," Yuki added.
Founded in New York in 2013, Sharablee is the official social media analytics partner of comScore.