In 2015, Oscars ratings dropped 18 percent, with many wondering how – and if – the Academy could turn it around for 2016. Based on the social conversation, this year’s telecast – and Chris Rock’s performance specifically – succeeded in being more relevant and resonant with audiences. While last year’s show drew just under 2.2 million #Oscars mentions on Twitter, that number climbed to 8.3 million for 2016’s broadcast, a 281 percent increase.
What drove conversation growth?
Chris Rock was far and away the most-mentioned star of the night, with his Twitter handle appearing in more than 170,000 #Oscars posts. Last year’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, drew 39,000 mentions by comparison. Rock confronted the #OscarsSoWhite conversation head-on, drawing praise for his poignant opening monologue and straightforward commentary on racism in Hollywood. This tweet, in which he shared a photo of himself editing down the monologue, was the most shared post of the night.
— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) February 29, 2016
In addition to Rock, two other stars garnered quite a bit of attention: Lady Gaga and Leo. Lady Gaga’s performance, which sent a powerful message about sexual abuse, earned a standing ovation from the crowd and high marks from Twitter. She was the second-most mentioned star of the night.
Unsurprisingly, Leonardo DiCaprio also drove a healthy amount of conversation. In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, Leo fever had hit an all time high. The chart below shows his share of voice compared to the other actors in his category since February 1 (Leo’s in purple).
Twitter got this one right: Leo got his Oscar, and the majority of conversation during the final hour of the show focused on his big win.
Who was talking?
While the number of posts about the #Oscars increased dramatically from 2015, it appears that one demographic – the 18 and under set – may have lost interest. Last year, this group made up 16 percent of the conversation; that number decreased to 5 percent in 2016. This shift may have had to do with the fact that Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Maroon 5 were tweeting along actively last year. We also saw the percentage of women participating in the conversation decrease from 55 percent in 2015 to 47 percent this year.
From the Globes to the Grammys to the Oscars, every award show teaches us something about what audiences care about and the moments that get them talking. In 2016, the Oscars successfully generated conversation by addressing topical and tough issues directly, a good lesson for any public-facing brand that’s facing controversy.
For more insight into the social conversations that surround the Media & Entertainment industry, take a look at our 2015 trend analysis here.