The Big Social Winner from CES? We Wrestled with Data to Find the Answer


Jan 10, 2014

CES is a wonderful world of 100 inch TVs, robots, crazy wearables and shiny new cars that may never see a showroom. But based on an analysis of the social media reaction to this week’s event, the show may be heading in a new direction. Hardware is still king, yes. But the services that power the hardware are becoming a larger piece of the puzzle.

Content Providers Enter the Ring

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other content providers announced new products and partnerships over the course of the week. The Verge released a story on How Netflix Won CES with their release of 4K support. While I’m a huge Verge fan and am positively addicted to their annual CES coverage, my social analysis tells a different story.

If Not Netflix, Then Who?

According to the social data, the content provider winner of CES is someone you may not have considered a week ago. A strong brand with a loyal following that may have seemed out of place at CES at first. After their announcement, it all made total sense though. And that is why they may have just won the Battle Royale for CES social domination.

If you’re not picking up on the clues already, I’m talking about the WWE. Yes, that WWE.

The WWE blindsided everyone at the show with the launch of the new WWE Network, a streaming content service that provides access to pay-per-view events, original programming and the WWE video archives for a small monthly fee. The network is blazing new ground in the emerging world of ala carte content - a trend that we expect to appeal to cordcutters. As such, the social response to the WWE Network’s announcement was staggering, and highly positive.

But let’s not call the match quite yet. CES is a tough battle ground for a scrappy new upstart. Let’s get in the ring against some of the biggest contenders.

CES Social Cage Match Round 1: Netflix 4K vs. The WWE Network

Netflix 4K support was a huge announcement at CES, with plans to power what some are calling "the next big trend in video". But how did it hold up to the WWE Network’s CES splash?

This match didn’t even make it to the second round. The WWE not only saw a giant spike in social conversation during their announcement, capping out at nearly 8,000 Tweets, but also continues to dwarf Netflix’s 4K announcement in the social realm.  Chatter about the WWE news also trumped conversations about Hulu, Amazon and other content providers.

So round one goes to the WWE for beating Netflix for the CES content provider social media belt. But how did the network stack up to the hardware guys? Let’s settle this in the ring.

CES Social Cage Match Round 2: The Pebble Steel Watch vs. The WWE Network

Upon analyzing the social conversations for all hardware categories making a splash at CES, it was clear that wearables earned the largest share of any category with social mentions. It seemed that every company at the show was debuting a wearable device, from Intel to Sony to Epson and LG. One of the most popular new wearables product belonged to the Pebble Steel watch, a slick new watch that marries tech with fashion. But with all of the great press that Pebble received, how did it’s social response measure up to the WWE?

As you can see, it wasn't even close. Even though Pebble received positive reviews and favorable press for their new product, the WWE didn’t flinch while defending its social champion title. The Pebble Watch was mentioned more than 17,000 times on Twitter during CES, a very respectable showing. However, that number still pales in comparison to buzz about the WWE.

Let’s move on to the biggest competition the WWE Network can face - the seven-foot, 300-lbs king-of-the-ring: The CES Keynote.

CES Social Cage Match Round 3: The Sony CES Keynote vs. The WWE Network

CES keynotes are a highly sought-after opportunity for brands to showcase their newest product offerings. They are also really, really expensive to  secure and produce. This year, the big keynotes were secured by Intel, Audi, and Sony (amongst others) to wow the audience and tech press.

In my analysis, Sony’s talk earned the best social response of any keynote from the CES show. But how did they do against the kid from Stamford, the WWE Network?

Oh my goodness - stop the fight, ref! That’s right, not only did the WWE Network announcement dwarf the social mentions of a CES keynote, but it also beat the most successful keynote of the show. Count it out 1-2-3...we’re calling this match.

What Does This Teach Us?

Keynotes and innovative products are a huge component of events like CES, and that won’t change anytime soon. But this year there was a chair to the back of the head that that no one saw coming. The WWE Network announcement came from an established brand entering a new space, and it was rewarded with a tremendous volume of positive social conversation about the possibilities.

So even with all the celebrity endorsements, booth babes, and after-parties, sometimes the best way to make a splash at a crowded event is to bring a big surprise to steal the match. Not an evil-twin-referee-costing-Hogan-the-title surprise, but, you know, still pretty big.

Chris Kerns's picture
Chris Kerns

Chris Kerns is the Director of Analytics & Research at Mass Relevance, finding insights in social data and guiding clients to create effective social measurement strategies. His brain is a mixture of Python code, pop culture trivia, and marketing science best practices. You can follow him at @chriskerns