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Adam Lambert - Video Viewership Statistics

Adam Lambert

Summary of Findings

Updated May 25, 2009 - a few days after season end.

Surprisingly to us, far more older viewers than younger watch our three Adam videos. As viewership grows, it grows in every age category - but older viewers are growing faster than younger. As expected, two thirds of viewers are women. The big spikes in viewership after Adam's Motown week and Birth Year week performances were spread proportionally across age groups.

Adam's popularity continues to grow despite controversy over his "Ring of Fire" performance, rumored sexual orientation and unconventional look. Viewers of all ages are much more interested in his singing talent and consistent, high-quality performances. They appreciate that Adam isn't trying to adapt to more "acceptable" conventions to gain votes - and they watch Idol regularly to see what he'll do next. At the same time, many viewers particularly love Adam's sweeter, poignant ballads.

A Little Background

Now that our three Adam Lambert videos on YouTube have passed more than 3,100,000 views, we've learned a lot about Adam's fans - a bit of which may surprise you. We thought the figures were interesting enough that we should present them to viewers. Adam's friends and family may want to share them with him as well.

We host two very popular montage videos on YouTube channel theBestArts of Adam Lambert performances. They consist primarily of excerpts from videos filmed prior to the start of Americal Idol. Like many of you, we were first introduced to Adam when he performed "Bohemian Rhapsody" during his Idol audition on January 20. We searched to see if there were any videos of him on YouTube and were delighted to find some - and more impressed with Adam than ever. We put together "Adam Lambert Demo Reel 1" and posted it to YouTube on January 23. The video hit 500,000 views on March 17th, 700,000 views on March 30 and 1,000,000 views on April 10. It passed 2,000,000 views on "Top Two" day, May 19.

Adam quickly became a front-leader in the competition and more of his performances were posted to YouTube. On March 12, the songwriting team of Thomson and Mann (see link above) posted a demo of their song "Quiet Desperation" that Adam prepared for them in 2006. We put together a second montage, "Adam Lambert Demo Reel 2 - quiet side" with this and several other videos and posted it to YouTube on March 17. It hit 80,000 views about April 1, 170,000 views on April 11 and passed 460,000 views on May 25.

A few days after we posted Demo Reel 2, a viewer sent us an MP3 of Adam performing a song from "Brigadoon" at Houston's Theatre Under the Stars in 2004 (at age 22). We set it to a photo montage and posted it to YT on March 20. This video has proven to be extremely popular with many comments asking that Adam sing something similar on Idol. On April 11, it passed 75,000 views. As of May 25, it was approaching 450,000 views.

Statistics Details

YouTube provides channel owners with a great tool called "Insight" that provides very detailed statistics about video viewers. Some of the statistics were what we expected, but others surprised us.

The Views

We're providing viewership statistics several times so that the early information isn't dwarfed by the later growth. Here's what viewership on our Adam videos looked like as of March 30:

Viewership as of March 30

Viewership spikes on the day of each performance. Hollywood "Week" episodes were aired Feb 3, 4, 10 and 11. Adam received good air time during Hollywood week with his performances of "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Believe". Adam sang "Satisfaction" in the Top 36 Group 2 on February 25, so the stats show a big spike there. He didn't perform on February 17 or March 3 so the spikes are much smaller.

Adam sang "Black and White" on March 10, "Ring of Fire" on March 17 and peaked at over 60,000 views with an unplugged version of "Tracks of My Tears" on March 24.

Adam sang "Play That Funky Music" on March 31. Adam returned to a quieter performance on April 7 with the amazing "Mad World" - and peak viewership of more than 180,000 views on a single day. Here's what viewership on our three Adam videos looked like as of April 13 after the "Mad World" peak:

Viewership as of April 13

Unfortunately, the statistics for the first week of April are incomplete. YouTube went into maintenance mode for many hours at 10pm ET on Tuesday - and didn't count any of the views that night (which should have been another peak.)

Adam has somewhat alternated between big over-the-top rock numbers and intimate performances. He performed the rock classic "Born to Be Wild" on April 14 for cinema week and then throttled back with a unique arrangement of "If I Can't Have You" for disco week.

Adam performed a classy arrangement of "Feeling Good" during the top 5 rat pack week on April 28. He performed "Whole Lotta Love" during rock week as well as a duet of "Slow Ride" with Allison on May 5.

For "Top Three" week on May 12, Simon selected U2's "One" for Adam as judge's choice. Adam picked the rock classic "Cryin" from Aerosmith. During "Top Two" week on May 19, Adam selected "Mad World" as his required repeat performance, the producer selected the soul classic "A Change Is Gonna Come", and Kara co-wrote "No Boundaries". Here's what viewership looked like as of May 24, five days later:

Viewership as of May 24

The Demographics

Adam's viewership is 65% female, with the gender disparity most prevalent among the 13-17 age group. Not many young boys watch Adam's videos. Gender viewership is most closely matched in the 25-34 and 35-44 ages.

Male viewers are shown below in green; female viewers are shown in gray; the timeframe measured is shown at the bottom of each chart:

First statistics
  • Jan 23 to Feb 14
Second statistics
  • Feb 15 to Mar 14
Third statistics
  • Mar 15 to Apr 10

While viewership has grown in every age group, it has grown most quickly among older viewers. So while the number of young viewers has continued to increase, the percentage of young viewers has declined.

Why is older viewer growth rate strong?

This section is speculation, not fact - here are some possible reasons:

1) Adam is cleaning up his act and singing more ballads. The softer sound appeals more to older viewers.

Nope, this isn't why. Adam continues to change his look and sound, but older viewer growth rate increases every week, not just on the quieter weeks.

2) Idol showed Hollywood week and Top 36 performances in February. The "real" performances by the leading contestants started in March.

This might be a factor. I know a lot of people love to watch the disastrous performances in the early part of the season - but I don't. I'm much more interested in the talented contestants, and that may be more true of other older viewers as well. (Ouch - I can't believe I'm now an "older" viewer.)

3) Younger viewers may spend more time searching YouTube for the newest videos, while older viewers may be more interested in "proven" videos. Perhaps younger viewers discovered this video first and older viewers took a little longer.

Maybe; it's a thought.

4) This video is hosted on theBestArts channel, whose viewers skew older. Therefore, it's natural that this video's viewers are older.

Nope, not true. Viewership on these videos is so high that almost 99% of the channel viewership now comes from them. These videos impacts the channel demographics much more than the reverse could be true.

The Comments

Summarizing comments is much more subjective than measuring viewer statistics. We group comments into four categories:

Diehard fans: This is the largest group of viewers who leave comments. These fans appreciate all aspects of Adam's talent and showmanship. They suggest a wide range of songs that they'd like Adam to sing, ranging from big arena rock numbers to "Phantom of the Opera." Most of them vote only for Adam each week.

Generally positive: This is the fastest growing group of viewers. They may not have been sure what to make of Adam at first, but they're being won over by his consistency and originality. This group of viewers particularly likes Adam's more tender performances. They often request more ballads or Broadway numbers from Adam. Many of them vote for several Idol contestants but skew strongly toward Adam when he demonstrates his softer side.

Generally negative: These viewers often appreciate Adam's skills but dislike when he goes over the top or "screams too much." Some of them have moved into the "generally positive" category as Adam continues to demonstrate his talent week after week. We don't receive many negative comments.

The haters: There's a small group of viewers who leave hateful comments about Adam or his performances. This group grew towards the end of the season as it started looking like Adam might win. Because we don't allow these types of comments, we don't have the same types of argumentative exchanges between viewers that sometimes occur on other channels. These viewers will never vote for Adam.

In the first three groups, many viewers compliment Adam's interview poise and believe that he's very likable. When viewers make negative comments about Adam's "look", they are generally more concerned about makeup than about hair, nail polish or guyliner.

International Appeal

YouTube "Insight" gives a statistic to show how popular videos are in different countries. This statistic is a little tricky; it doesn't compare viewer counts by country. Instead it shows how likely a viewer in each country is to watch those videos compared to all other videos. It then ranks countries by internal popularity rather than raw viewer counts.

Adam has a strong international following. Over the course of the Idol season, Adam's videos on theBestArts were most popular in:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Phillipines
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • Iceland
  • Malaysia
  • Israel
  • Bermuda
  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Samoa

International comments have been extremely pro-Adam; they can't understand how Adam lost the competition. Many viewers suggest that Adam's CD and concert sales will be much stronger outside the U.S.

Adam, what do these statistics mean for you?

There's no way of knowing if the statistics from these 3,000,000+ views parallel Idol viewership - or Idol votes. However, the statistics are facts, not some blogger's thoughts.

Now here's my take on what the statistics mean (not fact):

  1. Yes, young girls are an important demographic on American Idol for all contestants, including you. However, they're only one part of your audience.
  2. Viewers are most interested in talent. You were never going to win "country" week, so even though "Ring of Fire" turned some viewers off, it was a great choice. A large number of viewers, including many older viewers, loved it.
  3. Controversy hasn't hurt and may have helped viewership. I don't know how that translates into Idol votes, but it didn't seem to hurt during "Motown" week or "Birth Year" week when dialidol.com placed you as the top finisher.
  4. Viewers of all ages and genders love a sweet, touching performance. Don't skimp on the ballads.
  5. Be yourself. Have fun with the big notes, your hair, guyliner and fingernail polish. Be careful about makeup - or better, eliminate/minimize it.
  6. Keep people wondering what you're going to do next. It's a smart strategy and it worked well for you.