As the Oscars approach, all eyes are on the actors jockeying to get that career-boosting nod from the Academy. While the awards represent the approval of industry insiders and not the general public, the people and productions recognized in these awards ceremonies are becoming more aligned with popular opinion in recent years, a Parrot Analytics analysis shows. If we zoom in on the Best Actor category, we see a tight two-way race for audience favorite.
Two nominees in the Best Actor category stand above the rest in terms of audience demand, as measured by Parrot Analytics‘ data, which takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads and social media, among other engagement. Brendan Fraser and Austin Butler both had around 70 times the average talent demand, an exceptional level, putting them in a class well ahead of other nominees and in a category that only a small fraction of talent reach, with Butler holding a slight edge.
Throughout this awards season it has been a close matchup between these two actors:
- Butler won the Best Actor, Motion Picture — Drama category at the Golden Globes which led to his demand peaking at 145 times average.
- Fraser nearly matched this following his Critic’s Choice Award win and emotional speech on Jan. 15 when his demand hit 140 times average.
- Most recently, Fraser nabbed the SAG award for Best Actor on Feb. 27, which drove his demand up to 114 times average.
Another dimension we can look at when comparing how these two actors stack up is audience sentiment, a measure of the positive or negative feelings viewers have about them. All the nominees in the Best Actor category have a net positive sentiment so far this year, which makes sense since awards season is a victory lap for most of these actors as they celebrate the recognition for work they did last year.
Paul Mescal had the most positive audience sentiment this year. This is a good example of the trade-off talent can face between greater awareness — higher demand — and positive sentiment. As actors grow their audience base. they bring in more people who are neutral or even negative toward them. Paul Mescal and Bill Nighy had the lowest demand but highest sentiment among this year’s nominees: A smaller audience is engaging with them but that audience is more likely to feel positively about them.
Fraser and Butler had the highest demand and also fairly high positive sentiment. When it comes to how audiences feel about these actors, there isn’t a clear winner between the two.
One way these two actors have distinguished themselves is the makeup of their audiences. Butler has a more female-skewing audience, a nearly two-to-one ratio, while Fraser’s fans are more evenly split.
Butler’s audience is made up of a surprisingly balanced age distribution, nearly evenly split between the four generational cohorts we consider. While one might have expected his audience to skew younger, given his own age and acting history on the Disney Channel and in teen dramas, it seems that his breakout role as Elvis has won him older fans in the 40-plus age group.
Fraser has a noticeably strong Millennial fan base. Nearly 70% of his audience was in the 23-39 age group. Anecdotally, his Gen Z co-star in “The Whale,” Sadie Sink, didn’t know who he was at their first table read. Hopefully his comeback with this role will allow him to expand his fan base beyond his core audience, starting with his co-star.
Christofer Hamilton is a senior insights analyst at Parrot Analytics, a WrapPRO partner. For more from Parrot Analytics, visit the Data and Analysis Hub.
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