Content Marketing Blog

Twitter credited for ‘record-breaking’ Charlie Sheen interview

We've previously blogged about the sense of community that Twitter creates around major televised events, including the recent Academy Awards and the Super Bowl.

And while it has often been theorised that the social networking site is a key driver for boosting television viewer numbers, yesterday we got to see proof of this theory in action.

Headline-making Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen made a surprise appearance on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight on Monday evening (Tuesday afternoon here in Australia). The actor's appearance was so last-minute, in fact, that the network had only about ten minutes to promote the interview before it went live – and the actor only arrived four minutes before airtime.

This is when Piers Morgan – a longtime champion of social media strategy – and the CNN team decided to turn to Twitter to promote the Charlie Sheen interview.

Within minutes, news of the actor's appearance had gone viral, helping the fledgling talk show net its largest audience since its premiere six weeks ago, when Morgan sat down with TV queen Oprah Winfrey. An average of 1.35 million tuned in to view the hour-long interview and a further 719,000 turned on their TVs for a repeated viewing later that night.

"Incredible power of social media. Record ratings for @PiersTonight with no promotion whatsoever, just twitter/facebook, word of mouth," wrote executive producer Jonathan Wald (on Twitter, of course) after the numbers were made public.