Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Shilpa Shetty Survey

The escalation of this series to the international stage and the front pages of broadsheet newspapers has had a dramatic effect on Celebrity Big Brother's potential voting demographics.

5.8m people tuned in to watch "Oxogate" on Wednesday night - more than double the amount watching as recently as last Saturday. These new viewers, and potential voters will most likely will be biased by the reports they have read in the press.

We conducted two surveys over the past three days to try to measure this impact. The first survey was sent to a group of viewers that we would class as a "casual" viewer.

A casual CBB viewer will typically not have been voting regularly so far in the show, indeed may not even have been watching it until this week. The second survey was sent to a random selection of our usual hard-core CBB fans, who we are confident have been tuned in from the start.

Firstly, let's take a look at the "core" CBB fan's reaction to the controversy:

When asked if Shilpa's treatment in the house has affected their opinion regarding favourite housemate, over 50% said yes. When we look at which housemate they state as their favourite, Shilpa commands a 38% rating, considerably eclipsing all other housemates.

Now on to the casual viewers that we think have tuned in this week:

These people are angry. When asked if Shilpa's treatment in the house has affected their opinion regarding favourite housemate, 71% said YES. This confirms our view that the new viewers are primarily driven to the show by the press, and hence are biased. This is plain to see when we ask for their favourite: 62.9% say Shilpa.

This is all well and good, but are these people actually going to vote?

We asked them if Shilpa's treatment has affected their motivation to vote in the house. Over 50% of respondents said they were MORE likely to vote. Of these people that are more likely to vote, once again Shilpa commands a 70% favourite housemate rating.

It is unsurprising to us that Shilpa's plight has galvanised the people who identify with her most, and we found of the Asian respondents to the casual poll, 60% were more likely to vote and Shilpa carried a 90% support rating. Outside of this group, Shilpa had a 60% popularity, which seems to be reflecting the embarrassment that the nation is feeling regarding her treatment.

Given that Shilpa was comfortably in the lead in our core fan poll before the entrance of the angry mob, it is an exercise in academia to calculate what we think her popularity rating is now that the cavalry has arrived. It suffices to say that the unprecedented level of press coverage has led to an unprecedented level of biased interest and support for Shilpa.

Just for completeness' sake, I will make the following conjecture:

Taking the core fan poll to represent the 2.7m viewers on Saturday, and the casual poll to represent those that have switched on this week, the following numbers are an estimation of what the aggregate support levels now look like:


Shilpa 51.4%
Cleo 15.3%
Dirk 11.3%
Jermaine 10.9%
Ian 3.8%
Jade 3.2%
Danielle 1.9%
Jo 1.7%
Jack 0.4%

Having said earlier in the week prior to the escalation that Shilpa would fall foul of her critics before the end of the show, now I'm not so sure.

The rules of the game have changed. We think that it is in everybody's interest, including the producers, that Shilpa wins Big Brother.

We would be very surprised if she didn't...

Special Bets

Monday, January 15, 2007

CBB Polls Update: The Vultures Begin To Circle..

Before "mum" Carole had even finished her eviction interview on Friday night, the kids back in the house were already playing up. We're not really sure what the fracas was about, and neither were the participants, but one thing that we can be sure about is the viewing public's reaction.

We conducted a poll over the weekend which displayed a remarkable concentration of dislike directed towards Jade, Danielle and Shilpa, which seems to be a direct consequence of their eviction night brawl. The only other housemate that receives any negative attention is Jack. Having promised to "come out of his shell" last week, his "shell" turned out to be not the only thing he was to come out of - whilst the other housemates lay awake around him. Not a great vote winner that. (Meanwhile he keeps refering to Shilpa as a w***er? Irony that would make Shakespeare proud..)

Here are the numbers:

The real interesting disliked housemate is Shilpa - the reason being that she also features heavily in the "most liked" housemate question:

We have seen this sort of "polarising" housemate before - that is, they have both a significant like and dislike reading in the polls. Nikki Graham and Pete Burns both exhibited such a profile, and whilst they were certainly "characters", their critics got to them before the end of the show.
We would suggest that unless Shilpa can somehow convince those that dislike her otherwise, then she is going to have trouble should she find herself up against a "non-disliked" celebrity in an eviction later on in the show.

A simple but interesting take on this is to subtract the dislikers from the likers, something which we have done here:

A very respectable second place for Shilpa, yet her dislike rating sticks out like, well, like it's ten times as large as that of other well-liked housemates.

Once again, the momentum chart throws up a few interesting points:

Shilpa certainly has the wind behind her back at the moment, with her main competition Cleo remaining static, and support for Dirk taking a slight dip. Jermaine is benefitting from his increased exposure on the show, however support levels remain too low for him to mount a serious challenge.

One more chart worth looking at - the general polling landscape:

In summary, Shilpa has garnered enough support over the past couple of days to make her the viewers favourite housemate, and this has been reflected in the betting markets with her odds contracting. However, we find it very difficult to back her here on the basis of the dislike documented above. Until this negative sentiment abates, she will be vulnerable to both nomination within the house, and eviction against a less disliked housemate.