Viral video: A “Muppet Bump”? ☆

On November 23, 2009, MuppetsStudio, a YouTube channel associated with the Jim Henson puppetry studio, posted a music video set to the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a viral success. Blogs linked to it, people passed it around via Facebook and Twitter, and it got millions of views (over 12 million by the time this was written!).

Curiously, the popularity of the Bohemian Rhapsody video looked to Gus like it was helping The Media Show as well.

Looking at the views for the Yell and Sell video, she thought she noticed some patterns. What do you notice in these graphs from YouTube Insight? Pay attention to the dates on the x-axis of the graph.

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

Here’s some closer views of that timeline:

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

A YouTube Insights graph of views for our Yell and Sell video.

What looks like it changes from October ’09 to January ’10?

Gus took a look at the YouTube Search statistics, and here’s what she saw:

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

And here’s a closer look at the YouTube Search data:

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

A YouTube Insights graph of our views on the Yell and Sell video.

The YouTube search videos show search terms people used that brought them to the Yell and Sell video. What video were they actually looking for?

As it happens, the Henson company made a series of┬ávideos to help businesspeople with their businesses a while ago. These appear to be taken down by YouTube if they are ever put up, but the video named “Sell, Sell, Sell” is apparently a lot like this pitch Henson made to sell The Muppet Show to CBS:

So Gus is pretty sure that these people were looking for the “Sell, Sell, Sell” video, but ended up on our “Yell and Sell” video instead. Here are the keywords posted along with the Yell and Sell video:

furry punk puppet headon head on diamonds debeers sham wow kaboom parody ads advertising tactics bravia sony palladio opera branding sisters mst3K mystery science theater 3000 cinematic titanic muppet show sesame street greg the bunny TV nation michael moore adbusters debears media literacy education late night

What do you think: How did people find their way to the Yell and Sell video? Would they still have found us if “muppet” was not in our keywords? How about if the Sell, Sell, Sell video was not taken down by YouTube?

Can you prove or disprove that there was really a “Muppet bump” in our views around the time the Bohemian Rhapsody video was posted? Use the data from the graphs to back up your claims.

Could this “bump” in views be re-created for future videos? Describe the elements that would be important to making this viewing pattern happen again. If The Muppet Show had not been on broadcast television, or if Jim Henson had not been involved in creating Sesame Street, how do you think the viewing pattern would have been different?

Compare this “bump” with the patterns in the two What’s In A Flame? videos’ views. When and why do those videos also have a spike in traffic? What led viewers to The Media Show’s video?