Dr. Phil show results in just over 1000 more than average Second Life sign-ups

Dr. Phil show results in just over 1000 more than average Second Life sign-ups

A comparative analysis of Grid Survey data shows a modest increase in sign-ups to Second Life on the day the ‘Dr. Phil’ episode about gaming addiction aired – Tuesday, July 14th.

My very helpful stats adviser first compared sign-ups for the earlier 3 weeks to show a baseline (blue, red and orange bars). The only increase was on the day the show aired (Tuesday, July 14th), indicated by the green bar on Tuesday. The increase was comparatively small with just over 1,000 more than average sign-ups when compared to the average from the previous three weeks.

The analysis also reveals that most Second Life sign-ups occur on a Sunday and Monday, and tend to decline over the week (incidentally, this mirrors most of the web properties of which I watch analytics data). Despite a bump in the sign-up figures on the Tuesday the show aired, the numbers for the following three days were in fact lower than the average from the previous three weeks.

I’ve embedded a remixed and cut-down video of the Dr.Phil show, courtesy of Draxtor Despres.


Personally, I didn’t expect a huge surge from a talk show that a) focused on the negative aspects of gaming addiction and b) only showed a few minutes of Second Life. A part of me however, is somewhat surprised to see such low sign up figures for what amounts to a 2-minute advert on a syndicated daytime television show that has an average of 4.4 million viewers a week.

Clearly, context is everything.

You may have noticed Dr. Phil did not mention the name of the games that the young man in the show was playing and that the producers obscured computer screens when the game might have appeared on camera. I suspect that the Dr Phil show did not get permission to name the game, most likely due to the game creator’s concerns their product might be associated with gaming addiction.

With that said, one might consider that Linden Lab made a gutsy and proactive media play to not only speak on the show (represented by CEO Ebbe Altberg) but to also enable Dr Phil to engage in Second Life both live and in recorded video.

Taking the long view, this publicity exercise might not have immediately paid off for Linden Lab in terms of unique sign-ups, but at least many more people are aware that Second Life exists than they did before the show – lack of awareness arguably being Second Life’s biggest marketing problem (even though some of the shots – like the one below – seem like file copies from 2007).

What perceptions viewers took away from the segment is considerably harder to discern.

Dr Phil in the 'all-new and ultra-modern' Second Life
Dr Phil in the ‘all-new and ultra-modern’ Second Life… perhaps they missed the bus stop on their way to Basilique.

Note: The Dr Phil show did not include all the above video material shown in the video above; this is a remix with a few inserted images from past episodes of the Drax Files World Maker’s Series. The producers of the Dr Phil show limited the content associated with Second Life to just under 3 minutes of the 38 minute segment, which chiefly explored on young man’s problems with gaming addiction.

For a comprehensive review of the show and an embedded video, see Modem World.

What did you think of the Dr Phil show? Do you think Linden Lab made the right call to take part? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

22 thoughts on “Dr. Phil show results in just over 1000 more than average Second Life sign-ups

  1. In a non advertising perspective I think its good Second Life was on the show. We have our fair share of addicts, and I know of people who have caused their lives and families to fall apart via gaming addiction, from battlefield 1942, to Warcraft, to Second Life. Its nice there is some awareness raising of the issue.

    Advertising wise, at some point I believe most people have at least heard of Second Life, I do not think the appeal of current Second Life is strong enough to pull in more users. So any advertising done is like standing on a platform and yelling ‘Come try this thing you all tried 5 years ago, and if you did not try laughed at, and looked awful where you could not figure out what to do! It looks better, but that is about it!’.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed on the first point, Sableyes – awareness of the issue is a good thing.

      On the advertising / publicity point, I have to agree with that as well. I don’t think Second Life will ever go mainstream – it just doesn’t do a good enough job of addressing our most important human needs in an easy no-brainer way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find it an interesting tactic by LL to speak about Second Life on this show, in particular this episode. I haven’t watched the episode yet, although I found the full episode on youtube so plan to watch it soon, but to add Second Life to the segment, while speaking positively about it, could have a negative impact as it’s putting it together with a negative story about gaming addiction and people could link second life with gaming addiction (we all know it can be addictive for some, but in advertising terms, this isn’t what LL would have been going for.) Yes awareness would have gone up for second life but one has to ask if that’s going to be negative or positive publicity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My gut is telling me that the associations will either be non-existent or negative. People watching the show – if they even remember the name of the only VW mentioned (i.e. Second Life), will likely a) confuse it with the name of the game the young man was addicted to, or b) assume it’s just another game that they might too get addicted to. With that said, it’s surprising that even 1000 people decided to sign up – of course, that might have been pure curiosity.

      Now if the show was about the real and amazing ways that people can heal themselves through virtual worlds (e.g. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, PTSD), now *that* would have been a superb public relations opportunity.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. This is so interesting. I think you are right about the Dr. Phil episode being mainly a warning against game addiction (not a bad thing to address) and that is probably the message most watchers took from it. Am I to understand that “attendance is down” for the most part? There was a time that I thought SL was the best thing since Harry Potter. I still feel that SL could have much greater educational (including therapeutic) potential than it does but perhaps because of some of the negative press (which is not all false) I’m not sure if that aspect will ever really come to real fruition. Perhaps it might in another virtual venue that is not so “limitless set free.” Will SL ever go mainstream? Perhaps not, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I like quiet virtual spaces! However, the rampant consumerism of our society which has also crossed over into Second Life quite bothers me. ( I know I’m a bit odd) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hana. Yes, “attendance is down” for the most part. Sometimes I forget that this overall context of declining mean daily concurrency (the number of residents logged in at any one time) isn’t common knowledge. Here is a chart that shows you what I mean (Dec 2009 to July 2015)
      Mean Daily Concurrency

      What is striking about this chart, is that the number of daily signups (as you can see in the chart in my original post) is around 11,000 (PER DAY). At this rate, even if you were to convert a small percentage of these signups into longer-term active users, you might expect to see concurrency increasing.

      The fact is, there are fewer people using Second Life at any one time than there were 6 years ago, despite the healthy amount of daily sign-ups (many companies, I should add, would kill to have these kinds of sign up numbers). Now, many suggest that a significant proportion of these daily sign ups are not real people at all, but in fact bots programmed to sign up with the intention of spamming the forums. I can’t pretend to know what kind of proportion that is, or if it is indeed significant.

      Bonafide sign-ups or not, at this rate, Second Life is extremely unlikely to ever go mainstream. Linden Lab estimates the total number of “active” (not sure what that means) residents in Second Life is around 900,000. With 3 billion people connected to the internet, that’s about 0.0003% of the potential market. A product doesn’t even get past the innovator phase until it penetrates 2.5% of the market. Capturing *all* the innovators (the first 2.5%) would require a market penetration of 75,000,000 active residents.

      For context, Facebook boasts 1.44 billion users – which is nearly 50% of the market – that’s mainstream.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. so something is lacking and I wonder what it can be? Although some people are still very enthused about SL I know a goodly number who have become somewhat “disenchanted” and who spend much less time there though they still log in. I wonder if this is a natural progression over time.
        There is also the negative psychological type videos such as some time ago the prestigious BBC put out about adultery in SL ( did anyone ever see this?) http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/319fgv/second-life-virtual-adultery–in-second-life-
        and the one Oprah presented in Life 2.0 – both interesting, strange and ultimately very unflattering documentaries about the consequences of life in a virtual world. These must have had some impact.
        I certainly no longer feel that SL is a better world than my first life by any means,, but I still (as I always did) appreciate the magic that some people bring to it, of art , imagination and creativity. SL needs a shot in the arm but of what I am not sure.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s the Second Life Slide… I’ll be writing about this eventually 🙂 What it boils down to, is that the needs that compelled us to stick with Second Life eventually subsided, or filled by other things/environments/people. It’s normal and just happens. The more needs that SL serves for you (e.g. socialising, creativity, business, etc…) the longer you will stick.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. while I applaud the effort, if they wanted to draw attention they should have taken him to a place to more so showcase the grid; instead of something that looks like a new player built out of basic prims

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair, that picture doesn’t tell the whole story, the video does show places that are much nicer. Still, you’re right, I’d have avoided anything that even remotely appeared less than awesome.


  5. To decide whether showing SL on Dr. Phil will be likely to have much of a positive impact on SL sign ups, one first has to consider the size and make up of Dr. Phil’s audience. I don’t have data for this, but I assume it’s a fairly large audience of mostly stay-at-home folks – housewives, disabled, unemployed, and retired folks. These are also a large proportion of SL users, so this short, positive ad for SL does target the right audience.

    Around the same time of this showing, HBO is also showing a weird little sex-based reality show called “Sex On //”, of which the first episode also features SL in a much different light. Does this show also encourage new sign ups? Let’s consider the same questions I suggested above.

    Who is the target audience for “Sex On/”? My guess is horny people with HBO who are bored or can’t sleep. They’re likely to be fairly open-minded about sex if they watch HBO and a show about modern tech and sexuality. They obviously have enough disposable income to either pay for HBO or stay in a hotel that carries it. They’re also probably not the same people who watch Dr. Phil regularly.

    How is this segment on SL presented in context with the rest of this episode? Happily, as with the Dr. Phil episode, SL is shown in a relatively positive light *in the context of the rest of the show*. The 1st segment is about the use of Virtual Reality (Oculus Rift) and teledildonics with Online virtual sex services. These uses may interest some viewers, but will likely be prohibitively expensive for most. The 2nd segment is about a woman who is paid to sexually humiliate men through her website. This theme will be off-putting to most viewers. The 3rd segment is about a scantily dressed woman who wrestles with men for pay. This theme will likely excite most male viewers, but won’t interest them beyond just watching the segment. The 4th and final segment is about SL sex. It shows a mixed, but I think a relatively fair view of it. It’s titillating and weird, but the worst it shows is strip clubs, swingers, BDSM and furry sex. The ending note is that SL sex allows people to act out fantasies they might not want to or be able to act out in RL

    If most of the people who watch Dr. Phil were to see this segment, they would likely be turned off from SL, but each show will likely be viewed by different audience groups. The Dr. Phil audience is largely white-bread, “wholesome”, middle aged or older. The HBO audience is likely younger, more affluent and kinkier. Even if SL didn’t plan to be involved with this show, I think it will also help bring in more users, and possibly even ones who may stay longer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Canary,

    I didn’t see the show – so please take the following with that limitation in mind…

    Even given the described focus of the episode (sounds like a classic negative sanction aimed at “antisocial freaks”), I think that Linden Lab made the right call to participate in the show. They have managed to get the message out of the positives associated with Second Life (a message unlikely otherwise to have make its way into the content of the show) – and no one better to voice this than the CEO of Linden Lab.

    As to the marketing value of the effort, I think there are way too many potential interacting variables to make an analysis of simple sign up numbers meaningful in this context. As to building a bigger (better?) audience, does one really hope to do that from the audience gathered to watch Dr Phil? My take here is that it is simply best to get a positive message out and hope that viewers have the sense to judge whether they want to participate or not.

    End of the day I can’t imagine this effort tying into larger participant numbers for SL but it is always worth the effort to spin the positive whenever one has both the opportunity and a soap box.



    1. Appreciating that you didn’t see the show in question, let me clarify that the young man who was the subject of the show was in fact showing pathological signs of addiction, which was impacting his physical and mental health.

      I agree that Linden Lab made the right call to get on the show. On the subject of meaningfulness, I disagree with the idea that one cannot take any meaning from the increase in signups, mainly because there was a bump on that day that is difficult to explain otherwise, however I do agree that it is difficult to isolate this particular effect as caused by the show, without more data.

      Thanks for your comment, Thomas.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.