Tweeting goodbye to Michael Scott on The Office

Yesterday marked Steve Carell’s last episode portraying Michael Scott on The Office. Preliminary Nielsen ratings show last night’s episode of The Office earned a 4.1 rating and garnered more than 8 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched episodes of the season.

We tracked nearly 40,000 tweets about The Office and Michael Scott yesterday. These tweets reached a potential audience of more than 15 million people. During the east coast airing, tweets peaked around 1,100 a minute (compared to a peak of about 100 tweets per minute in last week’s episode).

Tweets about The Office on Thursday, April 28, 2011 (all times are displayed in PDT)

The big spike occurs in the hour of 6:00pm – 7:00pm PDT (9:00pm – 10:00pm EDT), when the episode aired in the Eastern and Central time zones. Approximately 80% of the U.S. population lives in these time zones, so a majority of the live domestic audience was watching during this hour. By comparison, the smaller spike at 9:00pm PDT included 2,546 tweets.

Tweets about Michael Scott and Steve Carell on Thursday, April 28, 2011

We separately tracked tweets specifically about Michael Scott (and/or Steve Carell), which saw a sustained high volume throughout the day. There were 35,460 total tweets yesterday, reaching a potential audience of 15.57 million. Most of these tweets were either quotes from Michael Scott (including 2,068 “that’s what she said” tweets) or fans talking about how they would miss Steve Carell on the show and how sad they were that he was leaving.

The most retweeted tweet came from @Lord_Voldemort7, which received 921 retweets and generated 1,166,149 impressions.

The tweet that generated the highest exposure was from @EW, which received 35 retweets and generated 2,045,163 impressions.

Overall, it was a pretty highly tweeted event, but not even close to some of the highest tweet volumes we’ve seen, even for a television event. For example, our friends at Mass Relevance tracked more than 4 million tweets about the British Royal Wedding last night. Of course, Steve Carell’s last episode on The Office doesn’t exactly compare to the international, once-in-a-generation pageantry of a royal wedding. Regardless, fans responded positively to Michael Scott’s farewell and seem optimistic about the future of The Office. Michael Scott left a big hole that won’t be easy to fill. That’s what she said.