The Buildup To Armstrong vs Oprah

By Sheldon Levine - Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at 7:30 am  

Tonight on Oprah’s OWN network the world will get to see the interview she did with Lance Armstrong. The interview hasn’t even aired yet, but people already know what to expect and they won’t stop talking about it. It came out that in tonight’s interview Oprah, the most famous talk show host ever, get’s the former seven time Tour De France winner to admit to taking performance enhancing drugs throughout his career.

Last year, officials accused Armstrong of doping, stripped him of the seven titles he had won and banned him from competing in the Tour ever again. At the time, Armstrong denied the accusations. Somehow the queen of media got Armstrong to stop denying this, and the word got out and spread like wildfire.

While most of the juicy information around this story will come out tonight when the actual interview between the two airs, I took to MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics platform, to look at the build up to tonight’s event. When searching for mentions of Lance Armstrong in social media for the past week we found over 739,000 mentions (most which came in the past few days). There were 13,641 blog posts, 35,117 online news articles, 20,944 forum postings and 669,399 tweets mentioning Armstrong.

As I said above, most of the activity that I found occurred in the past few days. When I took all the mentions and trended them out over time we can see that as news of the interview came to light on Monday, talk of Armstrong started to rise. The activity peaked on Tuesday though as by then everyone had heard the news of the upcoming admission. However, the real spike in activity is likely to come tonight as people watch the interview unfold.

A look at what all the social media chatter was about doesn’t reveal too much, as very few facts about what is actually said in the interview have come to light yet. All people know is that Armstrong admits to doping in the interview. Because of this, our buzzgraph and word cloud are filled with very general words. Of course “Oprah” “Winfrey” and “Lance” “Armstrong’s” names appear in the center of conversation. Around them we find words like “doping,” “drugs,” “interview,” “admitted” and “disgraced.”

Interestingly enough, when I pulled up the sentiment around Armstrong there seems to be an even divide. Here I found that 30% of the talk was negative, while another 30% was positive. Again, it will be interesting to see how this changes once the interview actually airs.

Lastly, I took a look at some of the most retweeted tweets about Armstrong in the past week. The number one RT’d tweet I found was a link to a story telling people about the admission that will be coming in the interview. The other top three RT’s I found however were people making jokes about the former champion.

There has been quite a bit of a media frenzy leading up to today. All that’s left to do is sit back and wait until the interview goes live this evening to see what really gets said and how people react.

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