Dispatches from the Web in the Conan/Leno war

by Eric Melin on January 21, 2010

conanIt’s pretty obvious that Conan O’Brien’s audience skews younger than Jay Leno’s, so naturally one would assume that Conan supporters are more active online and in social media. (From what we learned in our Conan/Leno sampling, that assumption is correct. Scroll to the bottom of this post to view our 3D data virtualization.)

Using our web-based listening and measurement tool Spark, we ran two different topic insights on the late-night controversy. One was Conan-centric, the other skewed towards getting more Leno results.

There were some interesting takeaways from this sampling and by using our visualization tool, we were able to find tons of quotes from both the social media hemisphere and elsewhere.

As of 10am EST on Thurs. Jan. 21:

  • The topic with more Conan-centric key phrases like “I’m with Coco” and “Team Conan” (and the term “Conan” listed first) had more than twice the number of URLs in it (55%) than the “Team Leno” topic.

    Conan sampling
    = 4,061 URLs
    Leno sampling = 1,829 URLs
  • TMZ was the 5th most influential domain in the Leno insight with 36 URLs (suggesting that it used more Leno keywords to promote its posts), while The Huffington Post was the 9th most influential domain in the Conan-leaning insight with 28 URLs. Interestingly, neither domain appeared in the Top 10 influential list of the opposing camp’s insight.
  • According to Spark’s proprietary influence ranking and the 3D data virtualization, the main page of the fan-formed Conan-supporting Facebook group I’m With Coco is far and away the most influential URL.
  • Our automated sentiment sampler pulls out the most overt sentiment samples from relevant URLs. Both sets of samplings had overwhelmingly negative sentiment: The Conan-centric insight had 68.19% negative sentiment while the Leno-centric insight was 76.87% negative.

Here are some extracts that were automatically brought back by Spark:

semanticcloudCome on NBC — ADMIT IT — The Jay Leno show is the show that is FALLING IN RATINGS — but in Hollywierd there is power in money and in coersion, so Conan gets screwed and he gets ousted.

There were a few months between Leno’s and Conan’s shows. Folks tuned elsewhere during that time. Conan then has to start his show when NBC is doing worse than ever; his lead-in is weak.

And as much as you fault Conan for losing ratings, Leno’s primetime show has BOMBED and it’s killing local newscasts because it’s a terrible lead in show.


Jeff Zucker sucks, Leno isn’t funny and Conan will walk away with a ton of money for his “humiliation”.

Then, when the time came for Leno to pass the show to Conan, they realized that Jay, the biggest name in late night, could go elsewhere and compete with Conan, so they made this mess. Jay’s show was #1, and they fired him… Now poor Conan has to deal with it.

If Fallon didn’t suck so bad, I would say that Conan is tainted goods at this point…but not when you’re comparing him to Leno and Fallon.

Listen up, NBC: Get Jay Leno back, forget Conan O’Brien to straighten out mess

Using the 3D virtualization, which visualizes all of the URLs as spheres and gives each sphere a sentiment-based color (green, red, gray for positive, negative, and neutral), it’s easy to see the most influential URLs.

Here’s a screenshot of the “Conan vs. Leno” virtualization, with the Facebook group smack dab in the middle.

-Click on any sphere to see the details of that URL. If there is a number before “conversation,” click on that to see an overt sentiment sample.
-Click on the dead space, hold down button, and move mouse to rotate the view of the virtualization.


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