The John Oliver Video Sweepstakes

Each week, the ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ industry observes a sacred ritual: Together, but not quite in sync, dozens of websites embed and then post the longest segment from John Oliver’s HBO show, Last Week Tonight. This video is made available by HBO shortly after the show airs — this week’s, about the sugar industry, is timestamped October 26th.

That John Oliver’s weekly video(s) will go viral is, at this time, a given. Whether or not the posts that embed those videos will go viral is another matter altogether. Each time around there are winners, losers, and mere participants. Here’s what happened this week.

Site / Likes

1. YouTube: 25,151

2. Time: 21,598

3. The Huffington Post: 15,525

4. Upworthy — 12,729

5. The Washington Post: 4,531

6. Mother Jones: 4,263

7. Grist: 3,353

8. Vox: 2,700

9. Raw Story: 2,199

10. Slate: 2,025

11. AddictingInfo: 1,580

12. Attn: 1160

13. Salon: 784

14. Uproxx: 548

15. The Daily Dot: 545

16. TruthDig: 429

17. CNET: 359

18. Popsugar: 313

19. Esquire: 258

20. Business Insider: 254

21. Hollywood Reporter: 199

22. Deadline: 188

23. Laughing Squid: 186

24. Mashable: 176

25. Medical Daily: 153

26. 9Gag: 146

27. Alternet: 143

28. Gawker: 114

29. Gothamist: 111

30. Men’s Journal: 107

31. The Week: 106

32. The Wrap: 79

33. Boy Genius Report: 76

34. SF Weekly: 71

35. Groundswell: 65

36. HitFix: 59

37. The Wall Street Journal: 48

38. AskMen: 44

39. Entertainment Weekly: 40

40. Splitsider: 34

41. Pajiba: 29

42. E! Online: 25

43. Pixable: 22

44. 14

45. ViralViral Videos: 12

46. Yahoo! (Syndicated from The Wrap): 10

47. Elite Daily: 9

48. Laughspin: 7

49. University Primetime: 7

50. Candy Industry Blog 7

51. America Blog: 6

52. Zap2It: 6

53. Tastfully Offensive: 6

54. Substance: 6

55. United Press International (UPI): 5

56. Daily Picks and Flicks: 4

57. Complex: 4

58. Higher Perspective: 3

59. BroBible: 3

60. Business2Community: 2

61. SocialNewsDaily: 1

62. RYOT: 1

63. Videosift: 0

64. WhatsTrending: 0

65. UIInternview: 0

66. Yahoo! (Syndicated from Business Insider): 0

(For links to each of these posts, the raw spreadsheet data is available here. You can try some of the links yourself with these free tools)

This data was collected on Thursday evening, October 30th. The video and its many instantiations are still not done collecting traffic, but the rankings are now unlikely to change in any meaningful way. We may update this list next week to reflect Facebook shares gathered by The Awl as the result of this post, which is ultimately an elaborate excuse to embed a John Oliver video on our website.

At the time of measurement, this video had produced at least 102,638 Facebook interactions. 25,151 of those interactions were claimed by links to the YouTube video itself (which was also by far the most Tweeted instance of the video — its competitors were not tweeted much at all).

This left 77,487 surplus Facebook interactions to be claimed by a pool of 65 sites. If these shares were rationed equally, that would work out to about 1,200 free shares apiece. But that is not the world we live in! So congratulations are in order to our top three video posters, as determined by Facebook shares, as measured by SharedCount: Upworthy, The Huffington Post, and, in first place, Time, which harvested 21598 Facebook interactions.

Some notes:

— This is not a full picture of John Oliver video sharing, but it’s close. We undoubtedly missed a few sites; others posted the video directly to their Facebook brand pages, without an external embed. The video was also tweeted and pinned and plussed and all that, but the numbers were comparatively small; the resultant traffic likely even smaller. Facebook also tells publishers about a thing called “reach,” which is not represented here, but which is widely suspected to be a modern variant of an ancient calming spell popular among village healers and hedge witches.

— This ritual’s practitioners have given it a name:

I won the Oliver-off! Give me my Pulitzer! RT @HayesBrown: Congrats, @bendreyfuss!

— Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) September 22, 2014

The tool you’re seeing there is a piece of software called “Spike,” which allows social media manager types to see the spread of viral news stories in real time. (Dreyfuss performed respectably this week: 4263 shares.)

— This was, in the grand scheme of John Oliver video embedding, an off week. The video is hovering between two and three million views right now. Here are the top videos from the show:

What a bummer! When John Oliver destroyed/vaporized/murdered/owned/surprise-smooched/ripped/KILLED the FCC, Upworthy, with a post titled “John Oliver Goes Off On An Epic, Fact-Checked, Mic-Dropping Rant For 13 Minutes That You Need To See,” gathered 356,369 Facebook interactions.

Upworthy also posts transcripts of videos like this, which is a nice service. And an interesting critique, by accident, of comedy explainerism:

Sugar activates our brains like cocaine. I’ve got to say, Scarface would have been a very different movie if it ended with Al Pacino sitting in a chair, sugared out of his mind on baked goods, saying, “Say hello to my Little Debbie. Say hello.” With sugar being so viscerally appealing to us, it’s frankly no wonder that food manufacturers put it in everything, and I do mean everything.

Delivery counts.

— The distribution, even this week, was fairly brutal:

What makes the difference between a viral post and a literal zero? Not clear. Good headlining, big Facebook audiences. Timing, probably, but lots of sites don’t put timestamps on their stories anymore, because I guess metadata is just another world for liability (Monday afternoon seems to be way too late, for what it’s worth). Do “brands” matter? Haha, sure, why not, but I can’t tell you how.

Overall, it’s tough out there: You either catch the wave or you don’t, and a lot of people don’t. Some notable entries: AddictingInfo, a homespun viral site that nearly broke through; Yahoo, which had two failed submissions that were both syndications of posts from other sites; Boy Genius Report and CNET, which are tech and gadget sites; and the Candy Industry Blog, which was actually more of a writeup than a video aggregation, and which offered the… other side of the story? Sort of? “So the good news about the John Oliver segment on sugar is that it doesn’t really focus on candy.” There are also quite a few notable abstainers. Overall, this is just a really weird list of websites, connected by a Youtube embed and nothing else (except a general sense of disquiet about the future).

Anyway: Losers, stay strong. Winners, don’t get too complacent. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will rise? Who will fall? UNTIL NEXT WEEK.

The ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ ᴡᴀʀs is an occasional column intended to keep a majority of ᴄᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ coverage in one easily avoidable place.