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:
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...