July 31, 2012

On Twitter, Mixed Reviews for Opening Night at the Olympics

39% — Percentage of the Twitter conversation offering positive reviews of the Olympic opening ceremonies.

The elaborate London Olympics opening ceremony-which featured everything from flying Mary Poppinses to a squeaking Paul McCartney-had its fair share of critics and fans when it aired on July 27. And while there was more applause than criticism of the event, the show was something less than a smash hit in the Twitterverse.

Almost four out of ten assertions on Twitter (39%) on the day of the event and the following day were positive, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.  PEJ examined more than 2.5 million opinions about the ceremony-drawing from all public Tweets in English-using technology from the firm Crimson Hexagon.

Words like “Awesome!” “Amazing!” and “Brilliant!” were commonly thrown around, and many users were fond of film director Danny Boyle’s work directing the grand show.

“Brilliant opening ceremony! Credit to Danny Boyle! Genius bringing Bond and Queen together :-) #London2012,” wrote @MediaworksIre.

About a third, 31%, of the discussion was neutral in nature, with many of them simply news accounts of the event.

Another third, 30%, of the Twitter conversation about the ceremony featured less flattering assessments. That included 12% featuring outright negative reviews, another 11% expressing confusion about the highly staged spectacle and 7% criticizing host network NBC, primarily for failing to broadcast the events live. (London is five hours ahead the East Coast of the U.S.)

Some of the negative reviewers made unfavorable comparisons with the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “Eurosport just reminding us how incredible the Beijing opening ceremony was… time to step up London!” wrote @PPaudioteam.

Speaking for those who were confounded by the opening show, @mikeminer  wrote, “Is anyone else baffled by the opening ceremonies? It’s not about good or bad, I’m just really confused.”

And among NBC’s critics, @DaveMacMS wrote: “It’s pathetic that @NBC – provider of Olympic vision to the world’s TV networks-refuses to show the opening ceremony live in the US.”

Note: You can see an explanation of how Pew Research uses Crimson Hexagon here.

By Emily Guskin