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Wednesday, September 3, 2014 | Last updated: 12:06am

Awards show audience all a-Twitter

Sunday was a good night for CBS, as one of the biggest events in music drew in 28.5 million viewers — an increase from last year’s 28.4 million, and the second-largest Grammy audience since 1993. The increased use of social media, and Twitter in particular, has boosted the viewing numbers of awards shows like the Grammys.
“Award Show Twitter” has become its own event, as users can follow along on their timelines as numerous instant reactions, pictures, videos and GIFs are posted. Taylor Swift’s questionable body gyrations are much more entertaining when they can be watched again and again on a Vine or GIF two minutes after she shows her moves on TV.
Based on data for tweets in Eastern Standard Time and Central Standard Time, a whopping 15.2 million tweets were sent out during the three-hour, 45-minute event. By comparison, 8.9 million tweets were sent in the three hours and 35 minutes of last year’s Oscars, and just 2.1 million tweets sent in three hours during this year’s Golden Globes. During the most popular performance of Grammys night, Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons, 171,593 tweets were sent per minute.
At last year’s Oscars, Michelle Obama’s presentation of the Best Picture award resulted in 85,300 tweets per minute.
Interestingly, while the Oscars draw higher viewership numbers, the Grammys draw more tweets. Last year’s Grammys drew 12 million fewer viewers than the Oscars, but were tweeted about a little over 5 million more times. The 2014 Grammys saw a 1.2 million tweet increase from last year, and it’s probable that the Oscars will follow that trend. With this being an especially strong year in movies, it will be interesting to see how far the numbers climb.
As far as the awards go, the big winners of the night were Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Macklemore — Pharrell Williams won four Grammys, including Producer of the Year, and channeled his inner Smokey Bear by wearing what looked like an oversized forest ranger hat. This, of course, prompted multiple tweets about the hat from the Smokey Bear and Arby’s Twitter accounts.
And of course, there was a plethora of entertaining and memorable performances — almost 20 total. Jay-Z and Beyoncé started the night off performing “Drunk In Love,” proving that marriage doesn’t have to be dull and boring. Katy Perry and Juicy J channeled their inner gothic Satanists during “Dark Horse.” Pink took to the air (again), and Taylor Swift did some violent headbanging while playing the piano.
But the most notable moment of the night might have been when 33 couples were married on stage by actress Queen Latifah. Though not an ordained minister, Latifah was actually deputized by the state of California just for the ceremony. It was a standout moment in an awards show chock-full of standout moments, and the tweets flooded in.
Despite competing with popular TV entertainment on Sunday night — like the NFL Pro Bowl, HBO’s “True Detective” and “The Bachelor: Sean and Catherine’s Wedding” — the 2014 Grammys were the most-viewed entertainment telecast since last year’s Oscars. The biggest night in music was also, by far, the biggest night in television.
However, this year’s Oscars have yet to make their debut (they’ll take television screens on March 2nd), so the battle for viewership has yet to be decided. Given the data on how social media has affected the viewership of the Grammys, it will be interesting to see whether this mode of public engagement drives up numbers for the Oscars as well. Surely those behind the scenes are planning more than a few shocking appearances to get people talking and, inevitably, tweeting.

By Robert Gauthier
Photo Courtesy of McClatchy Tribune Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk duo, and Nile Rogers accept their Grammy for Record of the Year at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday.

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