Social media gave the impression that the Kevin Hart Oscars fiasco was the biggest story in America; Polling says otherwise


You could be forgiven for thinking everybody in the country had something to say last week about the Kevin Hart Oscars fiasco.

As it turns out, only a small (but vocal) fraction of the country even knew about that particularly ridiculous ordeal, according to a Morning Consult/The Hollywood Reporter survey released this week.

A measly 15 percent of respondents said they had heard “a lot” about Hart’s recent clash with the Academy, which demanded he apologize for his old tweets or surrender his invitation to host the Oscars, the poll found. An even smaller number of respondents (9 percent) said they had heard “a lot” about the tweets that got the popular actor into hot water in the first place. The survey, which was conducted between Dec. 7 and 10 and surveyed 2,202 U.S. adults, has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

For all energy the press spent on the issue, which culminated ultimately in Hart bowing out of emceeing the 91st Oscars, you’d think more people would’ve heard about the controversy. Just look at the total mentions the Hart fiasco earned from television and radio in comparison to, say, Brexit and the Paris riots (per TVEyes):

If not for the press coverage, you’d certainly think more people would be tuned in to the story given the amount of energy social media users poured into the issue. Indeed, for a great many Twitter users, it appeared everyone was talking about the Hart story last week. And for a very specific niche of the Internet, it was the biggest story last week. But in terms of total reach and the broader U.S. population, the Hart story was little more than a drop in the bucket.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting some serious “Sharknado” flashbacks.

In 2013, when the Syfy channel debuted the first movie in a delightfully terrible franchise, the amount of buzz surrounding the movie’s release fooled many people into thinking it was a genuine event. If you were on social media at all when the first “Sharknado” came out, you likely assumed Syfy scored a major ratings win. After all, based on social media feeds everywhere, all of America was watching. Right? Nope.

“[D]espite the massive amount of tweets, ratings were pretty much on par with Syfy’s normal, tornado full of sharks-less original programming — there was no gigantic spike in viewership, as would be expected,” Complex reported shortly after the film’s debut.

The movie earned a terribly meager 0.4 in the ratings, which is about 1.4 million viewers, the Atlantic reported separately. For reference, the average Syfy program pulls in about 1.5 million viewers, which is nothing compared to what HBO normally enjoys for a single episode of “Game of Thrones.”

In short, the campy B-movie did a fantastic job generating online buzz. But in terms of translating into actual, real-life viewership, not so much. Likewise, the Hart story may have earned a massive amount of online chatter. But in terms of whether anyone heard about it outside of very specific social media circles, that’s a different story.

So, let this be a lesson to you. Twitter is not real life. What may seem like a major story may be nothing more than a concentrated handful of people screaming at each other. Remember that next time someone tells you something on their timeline is very important.


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