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How the Oscars impacted the Internet (at least in the US)

How the Oscars impacted the Internet (at least in the US)

The 94th Academy Awards happened this past Sunday, March 27, 2022. In the global event we got to see several Oscars attributed to winners like CODA, Jane Campion (the director of The Power of the Dog) and also Dune (which won six Oscars), but also moments that had a clear impact in the Internet traffic, like the altercation on stage between Will Smith and Chris Rock.

Cloudflare Radar uses a variety of sources to provide aggregate information about Internet traffic and attack trends. In this blog post, we will use DNS name resolution data as a proxy for traffic to Internet services, as we did for the Super Bowl LVI.

The baseline value for the charts (that are only focused on the US) was calculated by taking the mean DNS traffic level for the associated Internet services between 08:00 – 12:00 PST on Sunday (March 27, 2022) — usually we use UTC, but we chose to use Los Angeles time as that’s where the event took place.

The event started with Beyoncé singing at 17:00 PST and ended at around 20:30. In terms of growth in traffic, the start of the show didn’t show much for social media, although TikTok and Twitter started to decrease in DNS requests after that time.

Will Smith makes Twitter and TikTok rise in requests

Twitter and TikTok were the social networks that seemed most impacted by the moment Will Smith went on stage and started an altercation with Chris Rock after a joke.

For Twitter, the major change in DNS requests was exactly after that incident (at 19:25); before that, at 18:00, the moment Sebastián Yatra performed Encanto’s Dos Oruguitas song also had a small spike.

There were 32% more DNS requests for Twitter a few minutes after the altercation, and that growth peaked at 20:15 with 51% more requests than there were at 19:20 — that was after Will Smith (20:05) gave his acceptance and apology speech, when he was awarded the Best Actor Oscar. The ceremony ended at 20:30, and after that traffic went down.

TikTok also seemed to be used during the ceremony and the breaks, and after a spike during one of the commercial breaks, around 18:40, after Troy Kotsur won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in CODA.

The Will Smith incident seems to be associated with an increase of 20% in requests from 19:20 to 19:30. The trend continued with a 25% increase (19:40) and a peak of 40% more traffic at 20:15, right after Will Smith’s speech. After the ceremony ended (20:30), traffic went down.

Facebook (yellow line) and Instagram (green) weren’t particularly impacted, although there’s a decrease in traffic after the ceremony started and requests start to decrease after 19:00, especially Facebook.

Actresses made IMDb.com tick

One of the main sources of information about the movie industry is IMDb.com, the Internet Movie Database, and traffic to the site was impacted by the Oscars in a way not related to the Will Smith incident. Requests almost doubled (93% increase) in the minutes before the Oscars started (between 16:50 and 17:00).

And there was another clear spike right after Ariana DeBose won (at 17:23) the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for West Side Story, with almost 90% growth in traffic compared to the previous 10 minutes.

There is also an increase at 19:00, when Kenneth Branagh won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for writing Belfast. The other major spike in traffic, with 55% increase compared to the previous minutes, was right around the time Jessica Chastain got the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the movie The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

ABC and Oscars.com trends

ABC was the official broadcaster for the 2022 Oscars, and throughout the event had good numbers: two hours before the ceremony, ABC.com and also their dedicated page Oscars.com (that redirects to abc.com/shows/oscars) had between 200 to 600% more traffic than in our baseline (the morning period, 08:00 – 12:00 PST).

The biggest spike was around 19:45, a few minutes after the Will Smith incident. This was around the time Questlove received the Best Documentary Oscar for Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), and there was a reunion for The Godfather, with Francis Ford Coppola and actors Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, on stage.

Oscars official website

The official Oscars.org website also had some trends worth mentioning. Requests to the site increased 400% in the hour before the ceremony started, from 16:00 to 17:00, and remained high after that.

But at 19:45 there was a clearer spike in traffic of around 1,300% increase compared to the previous 10 minutes — that was 20 minutes after the Will Smith incident, right after Questlove’s Oscar and at the time of The Godfather reunion. There was another spike right after the Best Actress award and before the event ended. The full list of winners was published on Oscars.org right after 20:30.

Movie news sites trends

So, how about the trends for movie news sites like Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Vulture or E Online? For this we went on to look at the whole Oscars week (the baseline is a mean of the previous Sunday, March 20, 2022). The Oscars Sunday, March 27, was definitely the main day of the week, with DNS requests for those websites growing 833% more than the best days of the week.

That growth was even higher the next day, Monday, March 28, 2022, when traffic rose to 1,200% more than the best days of the previous week.

Conclusion

As we saw with the Super Bowl LVI, an out of the ordinary moment in a popular event, even when it’s broadcasted via television, causes changes in social media and Internet traffic. In the case of the Super Bowl LVI it was the Coinbase ad; here it was an unexpected incident on stage.

Other trends like these can be found on the Cloudflare Radar website or via our dedicated Twitter account.

Source:: CloudFlare