Why People Tweeted More During the Grammys Than the Oscars

If you're like us, you saw your Twitter feed blow up on Sunday night with tweets about dresses, acceptance speeches, and French swears as the Oscars were broadcast on ABC.

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If you're like us, you saw your Twitter feed blow up on Sunday night with tweets about dresses, acceptance speeches, and French swears as the Oscars were broadcast on ABC. But for all that tweeting, 84th Academy Awards were only third largest social media event of 2012, according to one research firm. Third, specifically, to the Super Bowl and Grammy Award. The Super Bowl is usually most watched TV event of year, so it being the second most tweeted is hardly surprising. But how exactly did the Grammys edge out both the Super Bowl and the Oscars in 2012?

The data above is from Bluefin Labs, a tech firm out of Cambridge, Mass. that measures how much viewers post on social networks during televised programming, including television events like sports games, political debates, and awards ceremonies. Its totals use publicly available posts, which according to Bluefin's Tom Thai is comprised of the vast majority of Twitter but only a small percentage of Facebook posts. Bluefin tabulated 3.8 million "social media comments" on Sunday night's Oscars broadcast, a healthy 293 percent increase from 2011, when the firm first started collecting data. But that total and year-to-year growth don't quite stack up to the two other big broadcasts. Bluefin counted a little more than 12 million comments for the Super Bowl, 6.8 times 2011's total. The Grammys had 13 million comments, which was an incredible 2,280 percent growth from last year's broadcast.

In that more traditional TV ratings -- Nielsen -- the Oscars got 39.3 million viewers. The Grammys, broadcast on February 12 immediately following Whitney Houston's death, had great viewership, relatively, with 39.9 million viewers, the most in 28 years. But that content gap on social media, according to Thai, is due in part to tweeters' tendency to share their thoughts more during musical performances than during, say, acceptance speeches. “For a social interaction standpoint, they are different animals," Thai said of the Grammys and Oscars. “The Grammys are basically a three-hour concert.” The trend of commenting on concerts in real-time is something Bluefin noticed during the Super Bowl, too; besides the first and last touchdowns the largest traffic spike during the telecast was Madonna's halftime performance. As AllThingsD's Peter Kafka put it, "on Twitter, there are a whole lot more broadcasters out there, and not all of them go freaking nuts about the Oscars."

The Oscars, of course, don't include as much in the way of musical performances. “Most of the telecast is people getting awards, which doesn’t drive up traffic," Thai said. Especially this year, as the Best Song performances were controversially dropped from the broadcast. (We wanted to see more Muppets!) Thai posited another factor as well. "The demographics of the Grammys hits more of a sweet spot for traffic." With the likes of Adele, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry winning Grammys, younger folks, more likely to be on Twitter and Facebook, were also more likely to watch the music awards. Besides Hugo and say, The Muppets or Rango, were there any big winners from Sunday night that appealed to the younger set?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.