‘Sharknado’ Twitter Tempest Actually Just a Small Squall


Syfy's creature feature tops social-trending charts Thursday but at numbers well below biggest TV events

Syfy’s campy “Sharknado” blew off the social-media doors Thursday night as the most-tweeted TV program in primetime, but the one-off movie is a relative minnow compared with the biggest television events.

The pic, featuring all manner of shark species swirling in a twister over L.A., generated more than 386,000 social interactions to take No. 1 spot among TV programs, according to the Trendrr social-media tracking service.

For NBCUniversal’s Syfy, that makes “Sharknado” its most social broadcast to date, more than triple the “Ghost Hunters” Halloween 2011 episode which had 118,000 comments, according to Trendrr.

At its peak, hashtag-friendly “Sharknado” captured 5,000 tweets per minute, according to Trendrr. It had very high engagement, too, with average 2.7 tweets per user. Syfy aired pic 9-11 p.m. (ET/PT) and re-aired it 1-3 a.m. Friday.

SocialGuide, the tracking service owned by the NM Incite joint venture of Nielsen and McKinsey, tallied 111,604 unique users who sent 318,232 tweets about “Sharknado” on Thursday the program, meaning 12.3% of all people who tweeted about TV yesterday tweeted about #Sharknado. Syfy movie had nearly double the tweeting audience and volume of the next most tweeted program on TV for July 11, the New York Yankees-Kansas Royals game, which was Derek Jeter’s first game back after an injury.

But “Sharknado” falls well short of setting any kind of social TV record.

This year’s Super Bowl XLVII on CBS, for example, drew 24.1 million tweets for the game and halftime show with Beyonce, according to Twitter. The 85th Academy Awards telecast on ABC in February generated 8.9 million Oscars-related tweets, social giant reported.

SEE ALSO: ‘Sharknado’ Takes Social Media By Storm

Meanwhile, Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” franchise, pulled in 1.6 million tweets last August, including mentions from Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Levine and Ellen DeGeneres. Other data points: MTV’s “Teen Wolf” season 3 debut on June 3 resulted in about 1 million mentions, and Discovery’s June 23 broadcast of Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon each garnered about 1.3 million tweets.

Still, the relative success of “Sharknado” shows the power of social media to expose otherwise niche-oriented fare to a larger audience.

Syfy’s made-for-mockery creature flick earned rapt attention from many entertainment bizzers, including Mia Farrow, Michael Chiklis and NBC News’ Chuck Todd.

Previous shark-toplined entries from Syfy in the disaster-spoof subgenre include “2-Headed Shark Attack” with Carmen Electra — which Syfy re-aired Thursday following “Sharknado” — as well as Roger Corman’s “Sharktopus,” “Dinoshark” and “Shark Swarm.”

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  1. exceller100 says:

    I think what you’re missing is the relative speed with which this Sharknado Twitter storm erupted. Nobody really knew about this movie in advance, yet you’re comparing to well known highly anticipated events like the Super bowl, Academy Awards, or long running, well known series like Teen Wolf or Shark Week? Let’s see what the ratings are for next weeks re-airing. I’m not saying this was the biggest event ever, but what I experienced was something unreal. It felt like the formation of a twitter tornado which started at ground zero and built very quickly into high intensity. It was a blast.

  2. Elvira Lount says:

    I guess people were so bored by the movie that all they could do was tweet.

  3. Jake Tapper’s solemn focus on the one Hammerhead shark lost in the tornado — http://placeitonluckydan.com/2013/07/jake-tappers-hammerhead-sharknado/

  4. Sure, but *everybody* knows about the Super Bowl…or Shark Week. The biggest difference here is I had no idea what the hell “Sharknado” was until I saw it in my social stream…over and over again. So I’d argue that the “Sharknado” tweets were even more powerful than any Super Bowl tweet.

    • Mike is exactly right. I hadn’t seen any mention of the program from Syfy or elsewhere, and all of a sudden last night there was a sharknado of #Sharknado tweets from nearly everyone I follow. If they weren’t watching it themselves, they were at least commenting on the buzz. It was definitely a word of mouth phenomenon across Twitter. That’s the story, not the total number of tweets.

  5. David says:

    I believe there would have been a lot more Twitter activity for this movie had not the west coast been battling sharks and tornadoes at the time! ;-)

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