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Opinion: What Rising Watch Times Mean for Social Media Video

Tom Chick, Head of Strategy, LiveWire Sport, delves into the changing landscape for social media video after a pandemic-hit 2020. The content agency recently became a managed partner for YouTube.


Yep. Sorry, I promise that is the first and only time that word will be used in this article. But although it has rightly become the eyeroll word of the year, it is exactly what this year has been, with the challenges, changes, unpredictability, and opportunities set to continue for the sport industry for the foreseeable future.  

That said, building brand awareness, the monetisation of social, engaging with an audience and driving results in line with business objectives have, however, all maintained their significance for sports brands. It’s still a case of doing the right things well, but with the important addition of adaptability. 

In amongst the pivoting, one thing in particular has remained a constant, namely video continuing to stamp its authority as the undisputed content king. In fact, the last few months has only strengthened its case, with online consumption understandably spiking as a result.

YouTube themselves have highlighted what their own trends reveal about some of the basic human needs in light of the pandemic. It would appear at one time or another, we’ve all found an element of sanctuary in a platform that feels all the more familiar by the day. 

As we know, over the past few months sport organisations have dived deep into their archive, created inspiring UGC content strands and, in some cases – such as F1 below – explored the esports and virtual streaming market to not only fill the void left by the lack of live sport, but to also tap into the growing trends on the channel.

Over two billion people are now engaging with content on the channel and watch time on YouTube and YouTube TV on TV screens has jumped 80% year-on-year in the US. And this trend won’t be ending any time soon – YouTube growth appears to have been accelerated for the foreseeable future.

According to a recent Conviva study, Europe led the way with ‘the greatest streaming growth in Q2’, with a 134% increase in streaming in Q2 year-on-year, a growth totaling more than the rest of the world combined. The UK in particular dominated with a 239% increase in streaming hours – a notable insight when it comes to analysis, setting KPIs and highlighting opportunities.

As a result, monetisation of content on the channel has increased, and will no doubt continue to do so. 

At LiveWire Sport our relationships with the leading social networks are key to helping us provide services to our clients and we understand how YouTube can complement any successful social strategy – especially given the monetisation capabilities the channel offers.

The increased viewership on the channel combined with a growing audience helps drive commercial benefits and the platform has shown striking results – YouTube drove a 24% increase in target reach beyond TV according to Nielsen Total Ad Ratings.

Providing commercial partners with sponsorable content has always been an integral part of any social strategy – but now more than ever there is an opportunity to tap into the trends we are seeing on the channel to achieve success.

All told, as content becomes a powerful income provider in its own right, YouTube should sit front and centre of any meaningful monetisation strategy: a route to substantial revenue that can – with the right audiences, and the right viewing behaviours – more than pay for any investment in content creation and management of the channel itself. 

Dylan Rogers
Dylan Rogers

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