Michael Jackson Tribute, Twitter Boost 2009 BET Awards


The untimely death of Michael Jackson and the resulting tribute during the 2009 BET Awards gave the event’s ratings a boost, but Twitter didn’t hurt, either.

At one point during the three-and-a-half-hour telecast Sunday night, the top 10 Twitter trending topics were all related to the event, and its feed jumped from slightly over 10,000 followers June 22 to more than 20,000 by June 25 and more than 40,000 Sunday night, AdAge.com reported.

Traffic to BET.com also doubled compared with last year’s BET Awards coverage and set BET.com records for best two-day total for unique users for June 28 and 29, AdAge.com added.

The BET-Twitter combination did not involve revenue sharing, but Twitter director of media partnerships Chloe Sladden told AdAge.com, “We’re in an experimental phase. We’re focused on learning and developing creative audience-building approached with our broadcast collaborators.”

BET chief operating officer spoke about Twitter last Thursday, prior to the death of Jackson:

Unlike mobile or online voting, it’s the immediacy that gives it extraordinary resonance. So many of the artists and celebrities that are part of the show are either participating or attendees and have giant followings online, so this is exactly the kind of thing their followers would like to be aware of. We want to leverage that opportunity to make the people who aren’t in the venue but watching the show at home feel a part, too, by encouraging those constituencies to tweet while they’re enjoying the show.

BET Networks CEO Debra Lee spoke about the Jackson effect in a prepared statement:

The number of viewers who tuned in to see the BET Awards ’09 is a testament to Michael Jackson’s far-reaching and long-lasting influence and legacy. We’re thankful to everyone who played a role in the show, both onstage and behind the camera, and it meant so much to all of us to be there for our audience at this emotional time.