By now you've seen the headlines: In an amazing coincidence, Robert Durst, the subject of HBO's six-part documentary, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, was arrested on March 14, one day before the final episode aired. This news sharply drove tune-in for the finale, and Twitter volume about the show, as reported by Nielsen. We wanted to see how people felt about this stranger-than-fiction turn of events, so we used Canvs, our qualitative social TV platform, to analyze Twitter conversation that took place around the final Jinx episode. We also looked at the overlap between reactions, or Tweets containing and emotion, to The Jinx and another national true-crime obsession, NPR's Serial podcast.
Reactions to 'The Jinx'
Using Canvs, we saw an upward trend in volume of reactions throughout the series, with the March 8 episode inspiring a respectable 845 emotional Tweets. The March 15 finale saw an impressive 1,187% week-over-week increase in reactions, with 10,867 emotional Tweets during the 12-hour monitoring window. Part of this increase was due to the attention Durst's arrest placed on the show, but the shocking final moments of the broadcast also contributed to emotions running high. Around 8:38 PM, the documentary showed footage of Durst leaving the room to go to the bathroom, overlaid with audio of Durst apparently confessing to murder while he thought his mic was off. During the five-minute time period around that chilling scene, Canvs measured a spike in reactions driven by crazy and afraid.
The news of Durst's arrest certainly drove Twitter conversation, but the documentary's premise also tapped into the zeitgeist, whetting our appetite for true-crime.
The 'Serial' Effect
From its first airing, The Jinx drew comparisons to Serial,the true-crime podcast from NPR that became a national phenomenon last year. We found a significant overlap in Twitter audience for the the miniseries and the podcast. In fact, during the Jinx finale alone, we found 125 reactions that mentioned both The Jinx and Serial. Of those reactions, nearly 40% expressed love, mostly in response to both programs.
Serial reactions also crept up in more unexpected emotional categories during The Jinx: 9%of all Serial-Jinx reactions were congratulatory in nature. Many of these reactions lauded The Jinx for potentially solving the crimes at the center of the show while Serial had a more ambivalent ending.
Our analysts also monitored general mentions of Serial on Twitter for the week before the Jinx finale aired. We found that 11% ofSerial conversation also mentioned The Jinx. References to The Jinx in Serial conversation were up from 4% the previous week, no doubt spurred by news of Durst's arrest.
Perhaps the commotion around Durst will die down now that the series has concluded, but more likely new viewers (and Twitter users) will continue to discover The Jinx as the investigation unfolds. Either way, we'll stay tuned.