The John Oliver Video Sweepstakes: Week 2

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. 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.

Last week, we congratulated Upworthy, The Huffington Post and overall winner Time, which harvested 21,598 Facebook interactions from John Oliver’s video about sugar. This week’s anchor segment is about state legislative races. Here are the results.

Rank Site Facebook Interactions 1 YouTube 30496 2 Slate 16866 3 Upworthy 15154 4 Huffington Post 6465 5 Mother Jones 5029 6 Vox 4976 7 Bloomberg 2418 8 Raw Story 1685 9 Honolulu Civil Beat 1056 10 Time 1007 11 Washington Post (WonkBlog) 584 12 Grist 548 13 Washington Post (The Fix) 418 14 TruthDig 296 15 The Week 250 16 Wonkette 181 17 Advocate 99 18 BostInno 76 19 The Patriot News 60 20 The Nation 56 21 GoLocalProv 37 22 GovExec 11 23 The Monitor 6 24 OpEd News 2 25 The Spokesman Review 0 26 The Salt Lake Tribute 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 6th. 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 87,776 Facebook interactions. 30,496 of those interactions were claimed by links to the YouTube video itself (which, as was the case last week, was also by far the most Tweeted instance of the video — its competitors were not tweeted much at all).

This left 57,280 surplus Facebook interactions to be claimed by a pool of 24 sites. If these shares were rationed equally, that would work out to about 2,386 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: The Huffington Post, Upworthy, and, in first place, Slate, which harvested 16,866 Facebook interactions.

So, first, a comparison to last week (this week’s results are on the right):

A stunning comeback for Slate, a sad fall for Time. A healthy improvement for Vox, which embarrassed its video embedding rival, The Washington Post’s Wonkblog (The Post had two entries in the top 15, however: One from Wonkblog, and one from The Fix). A consistent performance from Mother Jones. Upworthy remains a resharing powerhouse. Where is AddictingInfo? What is/was AddictingInfo?

The distribution, this week, is a little less brutal than last week’s; the share-to-site ratio is actually pretty high. There is a meaty middle for the not-quite-winners:

But something, overall, feels amiss. There were fewer than half the number of posts published to embed John Oliver’s anchor segment this week — 24 versus 65. The total number of shares was lower, too, but not by much. Last week was an already unusually slow week for John Oliver content anyway — the video did well, but not as well as most of Oliver’s jokesplains. Was this week just worse? The video is funny and thorough but wonky hard to summarize. It was an easy match for sites that write primarily about politics, but maybe it was too much of a stretch for sites that don’t. But that level of restraint doesn’t really align with the spirit of the whole John Oliver embedding enterprise. Why, in other words, did Bustle post last week’s video but not this week’s?

The answer: A SCHISM. Every week, John Oliver’s show releases a handful of segments on YouTube. Usually, or at least often, the anchor segment — the long destroys/murders/explains/obliterates piece — is the one that sites choose to post. But this week, John Oliver embedders faced a difficult choice: Go with the main segment, or go with this commercial parody segment featuring Nick Offerman.

This is where the missing sites went:

Rank Site Facebook Interactions 1 YouTube 31369 2 Time 10946 3 BuzzFeed 10229 4 Uproxx 5422 5 CinemaBlend 3392 6 Adweek 1520 7 The Daily Beast 1024 8 E! Online 776 9 Entertainment Weekly 709 10 Vulture 654 11 KGW Portland 386 12 Gawker 250 13 118 14 Junkee 117 15 The Week 111 16 The Raw Story 101 17 Business Insider 86 18 Gizmodo 78 19 The Huffington Post 74 20 Zap2It 69 21 Fast Company 64 22 Jezebel 58 23 Mediaite 57 24 Consumerist 46 25 WhoSay 29 26 Atlanta Journal-Constitution 24 27 Complex 23 28 The Wrap 15 29 The Wall Street Journal 8 30 Laughspin 8 31 Hollywood Life 7 32 HuffPo UK 3 33 InTheCapital 3 34 Business2Community 2 35 UPI 1 36 SocialNewsDaily 1 37 0 38 Uinterview 0 39 Bustle 0 40 1370 WSPD Toledo 0

67,780 shares, 36,411 up for grabs, 39 contenders. This list contains a lot of sites you might remember from last week — the strangest of the already strange bedfellows — that didn’t spring for this week’s big segment: Bustle, Complex, UPI, Zap2It. Whether going with this video over the other was the wrong choice is hard to say. The John Oliver Sweepstakes is, in the end, about gambling.

Of course, some sites saw not a choice but an opportunity: Time, last week’s anchor segment winner and this week’s anchor segment sob story, is fortunate to have posted both. HuffPo posted both videos, too, with a bonus Home Depot embed from HuffPo UK. It was, however, less successful in its second and third attempts. Nobody said the rules couldn’t change!

Anyway, again: Losers, stay strong. Winners, don’t get too complacent. All, adapt. 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.