The John Oliver Video Sweepstakes: Finale

Each week, the Content 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. 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.

Two weeks ago, we congratulated Upworthy, The Huffington Post and overall winner Time, which harvested 21,598 Facebook interactions from John Oliver’s video about sugar. Last week’s contest was won by Slate, with 16,866 interactions, but Time’s gamble on a second, less newsy John Oliver segment paid off, netting the publication 10,946 interactions.

This week’s anchor segment is about the lottery. Here are the results.

Rank Site Facebook Interactions 1 Huffington Post 20910 2 YouTube 15407 3 Raw Story 5692 4 Upworthy 5155 5 Vox 2592 6 Mother Jones 2338 7 Time 1992 8 Alternet 1976 9 Slate 1941 10 The Blue Nation Review 1617 11 Salon 1323 12 Attn 922 13 Oregon Live 847 14 Talking Points Memo 720 15 Truthdig 706 16 Esquire 338 17 Reboot Illinois 328 18 Gawker 319 19 Ring of Fire 280 20 Camel City Dispatch 227 21 Mashable 185 22 TwentyTwoWords 159 23 The Week 155 24 Crooks and Liars 107 25 The Progressive Pulse 73 26 Death and Taxes 72 27 What’s Trending 72 28 Quartz 66 29 Patch Illinois 63 30 Mediaite 60 31 Laughing Squid 58 32 Uproxx 35 33 Postgrad Problems 26 34 AskMen 21 35 RedAlertPolitics 19 36 GovExec 15 37 Headspace Press 13 38 Pajiba 11 39 Videosift 10 40 EducationDive 7 41 Economic Policy Journal 7 42 Tech Times 6 43 Daily Dot 6 44 5 45 National Journal 5 46 BroBible 4 47 Milk and Cookies 4 48 Kollide TV 3 49 Truth-out 3 50 Tampa Bay Times 2 51 Galesburg 2 52 Tastefully Offensive 2 53 The Public Slate 2 54 RYOT 1 55 Uinterview 1 56 Monsters and Critics 1 57 Elite Daily 1 58 Sun Times National 1 59 ViralViral Videos 1 60 Trendolizer 1 61 SaveMyBoredom 1 62 iDigitalTimes 0 63 The Interrobang 0 64 The Paper (Houston) 0 65 Izissmile 0 66 The High Definite 0 67 Boomsbeat 0 68 Trendistic 0 69 UMissedIt 0 70 The Classy Lime 0 71 Video Link 0 72 Pandawhale 0 73 DailyScene 0 74 Podaholics 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, November 13th. The video and its many instantiations are still not done collecting traffic, but the rankings are now unlikely to change in any meaningful way.

At the time of measurement, this video had produced at least 66,916 Facebook interactions. 15,407 of those interactions were claimed by links to the YouTube video itself.

This left 51,509 surplus Facebook interactions to be claimed by a pool of 73 sites. If these shares were rationed equally, that would work out to about 706 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, as measured by SharedCount: Upworthy, The Raw Story, and, in first place, the Huffington Post, which harvested 20,910 Facebook interactions.

Here are the top ten sites for the main video over the past three weeks:

It was another off week for John Oliver embedding; no week we’ve measured has come close to the show’s early embedding success stories. Remember: An Upworthy post titled “John Oliver Goes Off On An Epic, Fact-Checked, Mic-Dropping Rant For 13 Minutes That You Need To See” gathered 358,069 interactions on its own, more than the last three week’s main segments combined; Mother Jones got 86,064 interactions from Oliver’s video about the Scottish independence vote. This week’s distribution was extremely brutal, too:

Last week’s episode was the season finale, and this will be the last John Oliver Video Sweepstakes post. It’s appealing, now, to try to draw conclusions from our limited data. Perhaps the content-sharing public is developing a sort of herd immunity to embedded John Oliver videos, resisting all but the most virulent specimens; this would help explain why there were more embeds than ever, but a relatively small number of shares. Thirty-five sites managed to collect ten shares or fewer. Thirteen collected zero, and I’m certain I didn’t find all of them. Or is the internet itself developing some sort of immune response? This week, the task of finding the embeds was more difficult–for reasons unknown, many sites that previously showed up in Google News searches were not present. Should we take the consistent success of a handful of sites to mean that social media “management” is more like search engine optimization than its practitioners would have us think? Or do we see the continued presence of weird anomalies as evidence to the contrary? And what do we conclude from the Huffington Post’s embed of John Oliver’s video gathering more shares than the YouTube video itself? That embedding is somehow getting more powerful? No, we can conclude none of these things. Such are the temptations of data journalism.

If the data tells us nothing, we must turn to words. Here are all the headlines that won, or placed, in the John Oliver Video Sweepstakes:

Week 1:

3. John Oliver Just Started ‘Show Us Your Peanuts’ To Call Out A Massively Shady Industry. Sign Me Up!
2. John Oliver Calls Out Sugar Industry, Demands They #ShowUsYourPeanuts
1. Watch John Oliver’s Brilliant Takedown of the Sugar Industry

Week 2:

3. John Oliver Learns That State Legislatures Are The Shadow Governments You’ve Always Feared
2. Watch John Oliver Try To Keep A Straight Face And Then Lose It After Witnessing Your Lawmakers Talk
1. Don’t Care About Your State Legislature? Let John Oliver Amusingly Explain Why You Should.

Week 3:

3. John Oliver Chugs Some Vodka To Prove A Point About America’s Horrible Education Scam, The Lottery
2. John Oliver: Americans foolishly ‘spend more on the lottery than they do on America’
1. John Oliver Explains Why Lotteries Don’t Really Help Fund Education

It will be sad to watch this strange and diverse fraternity of sites, brought together only by their desire to embed John Oliver videos, dissolve. But who knows? Maybe one day they will find themselves united again, by video or by meme, by gaffe or by death, in the spirit of sharing.

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