Stihl Timbersports drives YouTube views among sports-hungry fans

Brief:

  • Stihl boosted viewership of its Timbersports lumberjack competition with a social media campaign. The maker of chainsaws and other power tools had canceled its Timbersports competition, and instead started to stream last year’s competition on CBS Sports from March 30 to May 10, per details shared with Mobile Marketer.
  • The campaign of short videos led to 1.87 million social media impressions, or 27% more than estimated, and about 95,000 clicks on its YouTube page, or six times its target. The effort effecitvely reached younger audiences with 82% of the click on social media and 62% of the views on YouTube were from people under age 34, per the announcement.
  • The campaign led many viewers to binge-watch the entire 16-episode series on YouTube while they were stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, per its announcement.

Insight:

Stihl’s targeted social media campaign to drive viewership of a year-old lumberjack competition performed better than expected, indicating how fans faced with a dearth of live events are itching for sports-related programming, even if it’s outside the mainstream. The suspension of play by the NBA, NHL, MLB and other sports leagues gives competitions like Timbersports a greater chance of breaking through to new audiences who have increased their consumption of online video while stuck at home.

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The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a longer-term shift toward streaming video, though linear TV also boosted viewership temporarily as audiences increased the time spent looking at screens. Video streaming time on YouTube more than doubled to 32 billion minutes during the first week of April from 15 billion minutes a year earlier, per Nielsen data cited by CNN. As lockdowns are lifted and people leave their homes more often, viewership time is likely to decline while still remaining elevated compared with the pre-pandemic period.

The resumption of live sports, especially by the NFL, is eagerly awaited by marketers that seek ways to reach audiences who are hungry for fresh programming. So far, racing organization NASCAR and the PGA Tour are among a handful of sports organizations in the U.S. that have resumed their events, mostly geared for a TV audience. NASCAR last weekend allowed a limited number of fans to return to the stands for a race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, the first step toward rebuilding attendance. The process of bringing back players and fans is likely to be gradual amid concerns about the pandemic and avoiding a second wave of infections.

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