How People Loved to Hate the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up

December 10, 2014
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Written by Bob Loos and Brent Snyder

Intro: The Boy We Love to Hate

If people didn’t vote with their eyeballs during last weeks Peter Pan Live! event, they certainly voted with their tweets; the boy who wouldn’t grow up was also the boy we all loved to hate on social media by using the hashtag #PeterPanLive.

In this analysis using the social listening tool DataRank, we will cast the event’s TV ratings in the light of the users tweets and brands that joined that conversation on social media.

Ratings: Voting with our tweets

PeterPan Live

In a groundbreaking event last year, NBC revived the live on-air musical with The Sound of Music Live!, earning 18.7 million viewers and a 4.3 in 18-49 viewers. With an eye towards replicating last year’s success, NBC aired Peter Pan Live! this year, but ratings paled in comparison, only generating 9.12 million viewers and a 2.4 in 18-49 viewers.

According to Variety, “The declines from last year weren’t unexpected due to several factors, including the fact that “Sound of Music” was the first-of-its-kind live event on television in about 50 years, and it starred the popular Carrie Underwood.”

Still, NBC’s official tweet before the event saw the greatest interaction of the night among tweets using #peterpanlive. Regardless of the difference in ratings between the two live broadcasted events, the truth NBC used social media to ramp up massive amounts of online conversation. NBC strategically leveraged a blend of media sources by weaving television–a traditional media source–with social media, which encouraged a new breed of multi-tasking between live watching and tweeting.

And speaking of voting, we’ll end the suspense here: #teamhook beat out #teampan.

Watching, or  #Hatewatching?

Watching or Hatewatching?

Yes, #hatewatching was among the hashtags in users’ tweets and feeds last Thursday, but they were #hatewatching with two screens.  Twitter, ephemeral and real-time in nature, was the perfect medium for users to respond with their own opinions about a live event.

When asked for her thoughts on the potential for harsh and shrewd comments, the star of Peter Pan Live! Allison Williams was honest, “People like to ‘hate watch’ things; people are very cynical, that’s a much more fun way to watch television,” adds Williams, speaking during a behind the scenes video for the show on YouTube. “People are afraid to admit they like things. … Why have we been taught that it’s not OK to genuinely like anything anymore? … Peter Pan lives and breathes by people believing in fairies. I mean, that’s a literal moment in [the musical].

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Conversation was varied throughout the broadcast, but never lulled, further underscoring NBC’s success in capturing our whole attention even if we weren’t ready to admit we loved it.

Christopher Walken, this year’s Captain Hook, was mentioned nearly 40k times (in fact his eyebrows got more votes than #teampan), and with his distinctive style couldn’t seem to escape his past SNL characters.

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Some of us were ready to use our imagination again

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Some of us weren’t

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And even though Ms. Williams was skeptical of our ability to believe, 2000 people wanted to believe enough to #savetinkerbell.

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Love it or hate it, NBC may have owned two of your screens last Thursday night.

Brands that participated in the discussion

But it wasn’t just individuals creating the buzz; a focused and entertained audience opened the opportunity for brands to join the conversation. Didn’t think that pizza, toilet paper, and snack food brands could join a conversation around Peter Pan? Think again. DiGiorno leveraged social media with a slew of witty tweets that weaved their brand into the live event.

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The live event also opened the opportunity for brands to interact with other brands in unrelated categories with silly, inventive ways to capture attention.

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Seeing the great engagement that @DiGiornoPizza was generating, @Charmin swiftly joined the conversation by replying to the brand. This type of interaction makes brands seem human and keeps them top of mind for consumers in today’s crowded media landscape. The next time you’re shopping at Walmart for pizza and see DiGiorno pizza, see if you don’t remember this exchange and the witty response by Charmin.

Your brand doesn’t have to tweet extemporaneously to join the fun; beyond the witty, sarcastic, and product-agnostic tweets by brands, there were also other brands that used the opportunity to promote their actual products by weaving their product into the Peter Pan Live! story.

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In either case, the brand seems relevant, in touch with the zeitgeist, and spends no additional advertising dollars doing so.

Curtain Call

The strategy of broadcasting live television events during prime time spots isn’t new, but is seeing a 21st century revival aided by social media in NBC’s recent broadcasts hoping to garner live viewership in the age of DVR recordings.

NBC has been on the cutting edge in its efforts to entertain and spark real-time engagement by offering live musical performances. Peter Pan Live! was broadcasted live in a format where users and brands offered their opinionated and sometimes harsh responses using the hashtag #PeterPanLive on social media by live tweeting during the television event.

Already know everything about your brand, but want to change the conversation? Collective Bias can help you out!

Disclosure: The authors of this blog post all have financial positions in #teamhook.

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