Last month, Beyoncé introduced the world to her alter ego “Sasha Fierce" through the smash hit “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it).” The music video hit the following week and Justin Timberlake jumped into the mix soon after, appearing on Saturday Night Live alongside Beyoncé herself in an earnest yet hilarious spoof of the original video (yep, that's Justin in the leotard and high heels on the left).
Naturally, we dipped into our Viral Reach Database to see just how far the original video and the SNL spoof have spread online. Along the way, we discovered a veritable treasure trove of community-generated video responses, several of which rival the SNL spoof in both earnestness and hilarity. We also noticed that the SONY BMG (Beyoncé's record label) and NBC Universal (SNL's network) appear to be aggressively policing the major video sharing networks and requesting the removal of copyright-infringing user-uploaded clips (hence the relatively low-quality video above).
So, here we have a case where the viral video community is actively propagating content related to Beyoncé's latest video, while the music label and television network are actively enforcing their copyright. So how has it played out? All told, we have discovered over 600 different video placements related to Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" video, which together have generated more than 42.6 million views (!!) and almost 110,000 comments. On the surface, it looks like the community is winning this battle so far... but let's dig a little deeper to see how the number break down.
Not surprisingly, content driven by Beyoncé, including the original video and interviews where she is promoting the song, currently accounts for more than half of the song's True Reach. More interestingly, perhaps, is the finding that the community-driven responses are trouncing the viral reach of Timberlake's copyright-hobbled SNL spoof. With that said, it's not easy to drive 12 million views to any piece of content, let alone a rag-tag collection of user-generated responses... but the quality of tiny dancer Shane Mercado's performance below (warning, some might consider this vaguely NSFW) helps explain these results.
This clip alone has already racked up more than 2 million views, helping to make Shane an Internet star virtually over night. Other clips in the 'community' category include hidden gems like Sim characters who dance only to the hottest beats, a potential controversy over the originality of the video, and much more. A quick analysis of the comment counts reveals that the community video responses are responsible for a whopping 45% of the total discussion, while the SNL spoof barely registers.
In summary, with over 600 placements and 42 million views in aggregate, Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" is unquestionably a viral video smash hit. But could it have been even bigger? While that's difficult to answer with absolute certainty, these videos appear to have connected with the online viewing audience despite some serious obstacles to viral uptake:
- The official version of “Single Ladies” has the embed feature turned off 'by request' (seriously, WTF?), precluding the opportunity of putting the video onto other Web sites and blogs.
- An 'official' version of standalone SNL spoof clip has yet to be released online.
- Our research uncovered an unusually large percentage of dead links and pulled videos.
So, taking all of this into account, it seems likely that, had the environment for the franchise been more conducive to viral activity, Beyoncé could have been even more ubiquitous, if that makes sense (or if it’s even possible). Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise? ;)
What do you think? Could it have had yet even more impact? Have you posted your own version of you busting out the moves to “Single Ladies”? Want us to measure it?
The data used in this post was collected from Visible Measure's Viral Reach Database, a constantly growing video repository of analytic data on 100+ million Internet videos from 150+ video-sharing destinations.