When it comes to captivating entertainment, the Internet is hard to beat. There’s cats, people eating random foods, dozens of random fights, and pretty much any brand of stupidity you can imagine. Take Buzzfeed’s super viral stunt from Friday, livestreaming two people forcing a watermelon to explode by wrapping rubber bands around it.
A little over 800,000 people tuned in to watch the clip live on Facebook — part of the site’s new initiative to move towards live video in line with services like Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat — and sat in awe for nearly 45 minutes until the melon exploded. The clip itself has been viewed over 7 million times and marks something new for the online content machine according to Buzzfeed News:
“The big decision we made was to shift a lot of our video efforts to focus on Live, because it is this emerging new format; not the kind of videos that have been online for the past five or ten years,”
Many were quick to call out the act for being silly or a rip off of something Jimmy Fallon would do, but the damn thing is successful.
Over at Vocativ — who made the Jimmy Fallon comparison — we get a glimpse into what this stunt may have meant for the productivity of the populace, including how much it might’ve cost the economy, which is funny and scary all at once if true:
The full video fell just short of 45 minutes, and if you ascribe, say, five minutes of watchtime to each viewer, and work out the math, that’s still more than 416,000 collective hours spent watching two millennials in boiler suits putting elastic bands on a piece of fruit. If you take the average hourly wage of $20.90, and apply that to the people behind those 5 million sets of eyeballs at five minutes each, BuzzFeed may have just robbed the economy of $8.7million dollars.
And considering that the Fallon bit only has around 2 million views online, the success here can’t be denied. It even outperformed many television programs, some we love and cover on this site. According to Wired, the watermelon garnered more viewers than your average episode of the recently canceled Togetherness and Girls, did better than most episodes of Conan, and even took a shot at Louis C.K. on FX:
Louis C.K.’s cable series afforded him unprecedented creative control. He writes, directs, shoots, edits, and stars in almost every episode, and has reaped the creative benefits of that hard work with a wider audience for his standup specials and passion projects like Horace and Pete, which launched on C.K.’s website. But his FX show, which barely garnered more than a million viewers in its first season, had dropped more than half that viewership by last year’s fifth season.
Should you be shocked? Not really. It makes perfect sense, especially if people feel that they are apart of a “happening.” Sort of a Robert California, spur of the moment type of event. Also it had the backing of Facebook, who paid Buzzfeed to host the live video according to re/Code and Daily Dot. So there are many factors for success here, none of which seem to take into account the poor watermelon’s feelings on the matter. Watch it’s life come to a halt below.