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Social Media and TV: X Factor vs. Strictly Come Dancing

21 December 2012 by Jeremy Taylor

During the past few months I’ve repeatedly heard that this series of the X Factor has been struggling for ratings and BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing has been the dominant force in prime time telly.

Here at Sentiment Metrics we wanted to see if this was reflected in the social media buzz surrounding the two shows.

The buzz volume chart (above) shows some interesting findings:

First of all, X Factor consistently produced the most buzz during the weekends, despite its struggling ratings.

On the other hand, Strictly produced the most buzz during the week. This is probably because the BBC broadcasts a sister show called “It Takes Two” which shows rehearsals and behind the scenes footage.

It’s also interesting to see that X Factor produces more buzz during Sunday’s results show, whereas Strictly produces more buzz on the Saturday. Perhaps this suggests a difference in cultures. Is X Factor is less about the performances and more about the drama?

It’s certainly worth noting that out of the first five Saturday’s shown in the chart, Strictly twice produced more buzz than X Factor.

Unsurprisingly, X Factor saw a significant spike during its final weekend. What’s interesting is that Strictly clearly suffered as a result, producing fewer mentions than in any other week.

Curiously, Strictly did not seem to benefit from X Factor finishing. The week after the X Factor final, Strictly did not see any increase. Their buzz volume for the Saturday show stayed more or less the same as previous weeks.

Now that we’ve looked at the buzz volume, what are social media users actually saying?

James Arthur (the X Factor winner) dominated a lot of the conversation, but delving into the negative mentions of X Factor we can see Christopher Maloney and Ella Henderson featuring strongly. Drilling further into this data, we can see negativity for two very different reasons:

Most negative tweets about Christopher were objecting to him staying in the competition (and eventually finishing 3rd) when people felt he wasn’t good enough. There were also a large number of tweets about his dear old Nan’s phone bill. Negative tweets about Ella were quite different. There was uproar when she was voted off as many had her down as favourite to win.

Looking at the topic cloud for Strictly, I’m afraid it’s not good news for Sir Bruce Forsyth. He doesn’t even feature in the positive topics, but is strongly associated with negative mentions of the show.

Finally, let’s throw a third show into the mix – ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here.

This show is rather different to the other two in that it was broadcast daily over a shorter period of time. During the two week period show below, it produced more buzz than Strictly on all but one of the days. That was Saturday 19th November, when bizarrely all 3 shows received an almost identical number of mentions.

Judging by this data, it seems that ITV still has the upper hand when it comes to social media engagement.

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