Oscars: Social Buzz Was Poor Predictor of Winners Compared with Gambling Sites

It’s the difference between just mouthing off and putting your money where your mouth is.

Leading up to Sunday night’s 87th Academy Awards, Facebook and Twitter — along with third-party social analysis researchers Adobe, Hootsuite and Way to Blue — issued predictions of Oscar winners based on digital buzz.

The results? Out of their 29 predictions for the six major categories (Twitter didn’t have a pick for best director), the forecasts got only 13 correct.

By contrast, betting sites, based on their pre-Oscars odds, were far more reliable. PredictWise, which aggregates info from U.K.-based Betfair, Hollywood Stock Exchange and other “prediction markets,” correctly predicted 20 of 24 total Oscars winners, including for the major categories. For example, PredictWise as of Sunday at 1 p.m. ET gave “Birdman” a certainty rating of winning best picture of 67% and assigned “Birdman” helmer Alejandro G. Inarritu a 57% edge over “Boyhood’s” Richard Linklater at 43% for best director.

Among the social researchers, only Adobe and Way to Blue predicted “Birdman” would win best picture, while none had forecast Inarritu taking home the best director statue for the film. The only category they all got right was Julianne Moore’s best actress win for “Still Alice” — evidently the safest bet of the night.

Popular on Variety

Why does this matter? After all, Facebook, Twitter and the others offered disclaimers of one kind or another noting that they couldn’t really predict the outcomes with certainty.

The Oscars exercise underscores an important point: The wisdom of crowds is only as good as the crowd you’re listening to. It’s worth noting that Way to Blue, a British PR and consulting firm, got five out of six right; it used a relatively small selection of comments (less than 100,000) culled from Twitter, blog and news sites. Some social-media hypesters would have you believe that Internet chatter, analyzed in aggregate, can produce all kinds of interesting and actionable insights for content owners and marketers alike. But there’s an old computer-science maxim that applies here: garbage in, garbage out.

Here’s what social companies and third-party analytics firms had predicted prior to Sunday’s Oscars, with the correct picks designated in bold.

Best Picture – “American Sniper”
Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
Best Actress – Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress – Meryl Streep
Best Director – Richard Linklater

Best Picture – “Selma”
Best Actor Benedict Cumberbatch
Best Actress – Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actor – Mark Ruffalo
Best Supporting Actress – Meryl Streep
Best Director – N.A.

Best Picture – “Birdman”
Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
Best Actress – Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress – Meryl Streep
Best Director – Wes Anderson

Best Picture – “The Theory of Everything”
Best Actor – Eddie Redmayne
Best Actress – Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actor – Mark Ruffalo
Best Supporting Actress – Laura Dern
Best Director – Wes Anderson

Way to Blue***
Best Picture – “Birdman”
Best Actor – Eddie Redmayne
Best Actress – Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette
Best Director Richard Linklater

* Based on 3 million social mentions across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and others from Jan. 15-Feb. 16.
** Based on data from more than 20 social-media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+.
*** Based on data from Toronto-based Sysomos for comments Twitter, news, blogs and forums from Feb. 12-18.

More Film

  • No Time to Die Trailer

    Bond Film 'No Time to Die' Cancels China Premiere, Tour Due to Virus

    Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the new James Bond film “No Time to Die” has cancelled its Beijing premiere as well as a promotional tour with talent in April, according to Chinese reports. The film, which marks star Daniel Craig’s last turn as the iconic spy, is set to debut in North America on April [...]

  • Honest Candidate

    Korea Box Office: ‘Honest Candidate’ Wins Weekend as ‘Parasite’ Returns to Chart

    Opening on Wednesday (Feb. 12), comedy “Honest Candidate” topped the South Korean box office, ahead of “Little Women” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” which returned to the charts eight months after its original release. “Candidate” earned $6.52 million from 909,000 admissions over five days. Directed by Chang You-jeong (“Finding Mr. Destiny”), “Candidate” is the story of [...]

  • Sophia Loren

    Netflix Takes Global Rights to Sophia Loren's First Feature Film in a Decade

    Netflix has acquired global rights to drama “The Life Ahead,” which marks Sophia Loren’s return in front of the camera for a feature film after a decade. Directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, “Life Ahead” sees the iconic Italian Oscar winner playing Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who forges a bond with a 12-year-old Senegalese [...]

  • The Book of Sun

    Oliver Stone to Head Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Festival Jury, Lineup Announced

    Oliver Stone will preside over the main jury of Saudi Arabia’s nascent Red Sea International Film Festival, which has unveiled its inaugural lineup. The fest will feature the Middle East premiere of Harvey Weinstein-inspired workplace abuse drama “The Assistant” amid a fresh mix of feature films and docs from Europe, the U.S., Asia and Africa [...]

  • Aerial View of Jiangxia temporary hospital

    Virus Kills Chinese Film Director and Family in Wuhan

    A Chinese film director and his entire family have died from the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Chang Kai, a film director and an external communications officer at a Hubei Film Studio subsidiary, died in hospital on Feb. 14 from the virus now called COVID-19, according to a statement from the [...]

  • Remi Bonhomme

    Marrakech Film Festival Taps Cannes Exec Remi Bonhomme as Artistic Director

    Remi Bonhomme, a leading force behind Cannes’ Critics Week, has been appointed artistic director of the Marrakech Film Festival and its industry conference, the Atlas Workshops. In recent years, Bonhomme successfully headed the Atlas Workshops, a platform dedicated to supporting the cinema of the African continent and the Arab world, where he was also part [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content