From the Brits to the Oscars Twitter reveals award season 2013’s hosts with the most

Sunday night the curtain closed on the 85th Academy Awards, officially drawing the two-month long run of awards around music and film to a finish. They were peppered with proud moments, like Daniel Day Lewis’ third Best Actor scoop making Oscar history, well as more confusing ones, like Prince actually endorsing Gotye’s music. But some of the most skilled performers out there are the hosts themselves. It falls to them carry the show through and make it at the least watchable, at the most memorable (and with the advent of Twitter in TV ratings, mentionable).

Looking back over the Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys, BAFTAS and Brit Awards, we conducted sentiment analysis on Twitter to find out who really is the “Host with the Most”. We felt that only human analysis was relevant for this kind of project as it was essential we accurately accounted for sarcasm and cultural references.

For each host we divided up a random sample of tweets that mention the host into positive, negative, or neutral (neutral tweets are those that mentioned the host, but didn’t express a specific opinion). The score was calculated by subtracting share of negative from positive, then dividing that by the number of neutral to create a host score. The results are below:

Perhaps it’s no surprise that British national treasure and avid tweeter Stephen Fry took the top spot, although Tina Fey’s performance at the Golden Globes comes a very close second. Although Fry’s efforts provoked the most opinionated response of any individual, not all of it was positive, with 23% of the total taking a dislike to the presenter (especially in the last half of the show).

In contrast to Fry, barely a bad word was said about comedy queens and off-screen best friends Amy Poelher and Tina Fey, with less than 1% of tweets analysed ending up the negative pile. Our score also rewards presenters for having garnered engaged tweets that express an opinion; had we been scoring solely on positive mentions then Tina Fey would have been number one. The below looks at the share of positive, negative and neutral tweets each presenter received.

Digging a little deeper, we took a new sample of tweets that mentioned both Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as a duo. This causes the scoreboard to shift; the two together literally double Fry’s score.

What makes the host with the most?

Fey and Poelher have a long, long history of working together, which probably goes a way to creating the dynamic that made them such a hit when hosting. But it could also be that double-acts are more popular. Would the BAFTAs have trumped the Globes hosts if Fry had a partner to bounce off, as one Tweeter suggested?

The Oscars has had co-hosts before, but the last two times met with poor reception. James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s 2011 presentation was poorly received, as was Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin’s try the year before. LL Cool J’s second stint at the Grammys split opinion, with his tendency to lick his lips a little more than usual quickly becoming a point of interest for Twitter trolls. Last night’s Oscars job by Seth Macfarlane was similarly divisive, although our analysis would indicate that the Family Guy creator came off better on Twitter than critics have suggested as he still pulled in more positive than negative mentions overall.

As we saw in last week’s Tweet analysis, the Brits were up nearly half a million viewers from last year. Media coverage widely critiqued the ceremony as bland, with a poll by Music Week stating that 85% of pollers didn’t find the event as exciting as previous years. Laura Whitmore may have called Corden the “Host with the Most”, but he failed to impress online as less than a third of the comedian’s overall mentions were positive; in fact, Corden was the only host to take a negative index. Perhaps he was playing it safe after last year’s scandal (although he did manage to get away with calling Simon Cowell a “beautiful bastard” before watershed without too much attention).
It makes sense that audiences prefer host with experience of live comedy (Fey, Poehler and Fry). Corden and MacFarlane are both undeniably funny guys, but as writers and actors they’re not as used to live action. LL Cool J similarly carries the show from A to B instead of making it his own. The level of insight that Twitter can offer into an event is impressive, and it’s interesting to see how this can depart from what we see in traditional media.

Seth MacFarlane’s performance was been panned in the morning press, but in reality his reception was more like 50:50. It was speculated the choice to use MacFarlane was to draw in younger audiences to the show, with the average age of viewers rising from 39 in 1993 to 59 last year. Whether he’s achieved this we can’t say for sure at this point, but the split would suggest not, as even tweets from those that understand Macfarlane’s humor panned his set being too close to an episode of Family Guy.

Advertisers and content producers alike should be leveraging the powerhouse of public opinion that is Twitter to help guide their choices when planning for 2013, paying special attention to the personalities that can guarantee Twitter engagement. And although sentiment analysis can be time consuming, it’s worth scraping the surface to see what stories Twitter can tell besides just volume of tweets.

Scott Thompson, digital research manager, Starcom MediaVest Group