How DeSantis’ Twitter Spaces event compares to past livestreams
Within hours of Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing his candidacy for president on Twitter Wednesday, attendees of the audio event celebrated the achievement.
Venture capitalist David Sacks, who moderated the Twitter conversation, Announce It is “by far the largest room on social media”. Later in the day, DeSantis, a Florida Republican, said in a podcast interview that he thought “probably more than 10 million people” would “watch” the event, dubbed Twitter Space, or record it by later in the day.
They are wrong on both counts.
The audio event — which was interrupted by a technical glitch for more than 20 minutes before restarting — drew about 300,000 simultaneous listeners, according to Twitter metrics, or the number of people who tuned in after Mr. DeSantis made the announcement. people listening at the same time. As of Thursday, 3.4 million people had listened to Space or its recordings, according to Twitter data.
Compared with past live broadcasts, these numbers are less than 10 million people, far from “the largest room ever on social media.”
Consider the 2016 Facebook Live event in which two BuzzFeed employees wrapped rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded, captivating Over 800,000 concurrent viewers In the hours after it ended, it racked up 5 million views. In 2017, a YouTube livestream of a pregnant giraffe drew 5 million viewers a day.
The event with Mr. DeSantis pales in comparison to even past audio livestreams on Twitter.more than last month 3 million people listening simultaneously Interview with Twitter founder Elon Musk BBC reporter In the Twitter space, according to the company’s numbers. A records of that space Says 2.6 million listeners ended up “tuning in.” (Twitter doesn’t explain the difference between the number of concurrent listeners and the “listening” number.)
“Getting hundreds of thousands of people to do something in a few minutes is not a big deal,” said Brian Wieser, a senior media analyst at business strategy consulting firm Madison and Wall. “I’m not so sure that using Twitter to announce a presidential campaign is the most influential environment, although Twitter could be that.”
Determining the reach and audience of Mr. DeSantis’ Twitter statements is important because the online event has been hailed as a modern way to make a political statement, bypassing traditional media such as cable news and network television. However, preliminary numbers from Twitter have raised questions about whether presidential candidates can ignore traditional media in big campaign announcements.
While TV viewership is generally lower than it was a decade ago, some live political events still attract large audiences. For example, when President Biden delivered his State of the Union address on Feb. 7, it was broadcast live to 27.3 million people across 16 television networks, according to Nielsen data.
In an email, Mr. Sachs said his assertion that Mr. DeSantis’ space was the “largest room ever created” came from a Twitter engineer. He said he had counted other live streams sharing the same audio as the original space.
“I’ve asked for a more detailed analysis but they’re a bit busy at the moment,” Mr Sachs said.
Representatives for Mr. Musk and Mr. DeSantis, who follows his Twitter feed through his appearance on Fox News, did not respond to requests for comment.
That’s not to say that using social media to make political announcements can’t be influential. Because the media is so fragmented, there is no unified platform, and the quality of the audience is often a motivating factor for politicians, Mr Wiesel said. Perhaps Mr. DeSantis’ goal, he said, was not to reach the most people, but to reach those most likely to be persuaded to donate to him or help spread his message.
Comparing the reach of social media to television broadcasting is also difficult. A “unique” view on social media represents each account that visited a post or other content, not the number of visits. Such views are not necessarily from a human, as bot activity may be involved, and do not indicate whether the viewer is watching for half a second or half an hour. TV ratings, by contrast, represent average viewership over a longer period, Mr Wiesel said.
Twitter also didn’t explain how it counted the difference between live audiences and those listening to Twitter Spaces recordings.
“The influence on Twitter is artificial: People tune in and tune in faster, and they’re likely watching on mobile devices, which aren’t as effective at grabbing people’s attention as the big TVs,” said senior analyst Ross R. Ross Benes said. Partner with Insider Intelligence covering digital video, TV and streaming.
After the Twitter Space with Mr. DeSantis ended on Wednesday, traditional media poked fun at the event’s technical glitches. When Mr. DeSantis appeared on Fox News, host Trey Gowdy quipped, “Fox News isn’t going to crash on this interview.” The segment drew nearly 2 million viewers.
On Thursday, Mr. DeSantis also sought to shed light on technical issues with Twitter Space. His campaign sent out fundraising emails and displayed T-shirts saying the presidential candidate “broke the internet.”
Nicholas Nehamas and John Kobrin Contribution report.