clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Twitter Oscar Numbers Drop, but TV Ratings Sink Much Lower

Nielsen says Twitter's Oscar numbers dropped last night -- but TV's dropped more.

Screenshot via ABC/
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

You’re going to see a few sets of numbers about Twitter’s performance during the 2015 Oscars. Here is the first: Nielsen says that 13 million U.S. Twitter users checked out last night’s show. That’s down from 13.9 million last year — a drop of 6.5 percent.

If you are a Twitter fan or a Twitter executive, you will point to that drop as a victory. That’s because the American TV audience for last night’s snoozer looks to have dropped by 16 percent, and it hit a six-year low.

Translation: People who use Twitter are much more likely to watch the Oscars than the rest of America. Which makes sense, since watching the Oscars, and making fun of them, or complaining about them, or simply wondering WTF is up with John Travolta, is kind of the point of Twitter. Or at least one of its main points.

This is what Twitter executives have been saying for years, in various ways. That message has morphed over time — at one point Twitter was trying to argue that it could drive ratings to TV shows, but now it has a fuzzier message about “engagement” — but Twitter hearts TV does seem to have some resonance.

Facebook, which ignored “social TV” for years, has recently made its own push, and has its own numbers to announce from last night: It says 21 million people worldwide had 58 million “interactions” with Oscar-related stuff, which means they liked a post, or commented on one, or wrote one.

That’s up from 11.3 million and 25.4 million last year, and that leap isn’t that surprising given the focus Facebook put on this year’s show, which included live streaming video from backstage. Sources say Facebook offered up to $2 million in “in-kind” promotion to ABC, which broadcast the awards, to seal that deal.

You want more numbers? You’ll get more numbers: Twitter plans to release its own metrics, which will show the event’s global “reach.” That will include people who used Twitter during the awards, as well as “logged out” viewers who saw tweets on Twitter’s website or in other venues.

That is likely to produce a very, very big number, which is Twitter’s point, since it has been trying to argue that Twitter’s “real” audience is much bigger than its 288 million monthly active users.

Last year, for instance, Twitter said that the Oscars generated 3.3 billion impressions, a bunch of which came from the famous Ellen selfie.

There was no equivalent moment last night — in part because John Travolta creeped out people in a series of encounters, not a single event. Also perhaps because people like to look at happy celebrities instead of creeped-out ones.

So last night’s number may not climb that high. But Twitter will want to see a big result, regardless.

This article originally appeared on