The WWE began promoting Tout like crazy last night on the broadcast of Monday Night Raw (make sure to watch RAW # 1000 next week, at the very least we’re getting a title match between John Cena and CM Punk) with various interstitial commercials and numerous references from the commentators encouraging the WWE Universe to use the new service, which is, in a nutshell, “Twitter for video”. Tout, which was born at the Stanford Research Institute, is a new social media channel using both web based and mobile applications to allow users to make real-time status updates designed for instant sharing through other social media platforms. Users record short 15 second videos using their PC, tablet or smartphone, and then “Tout” them to other users a la Twitter. Right now, Tout has about 25 million users, and the CEO claims that 6 million of those joined after the WWE began promoting the service. The WWE is all in on this one, with a dedicated page showing users all about the new service.
Tout recently closed a round of funding for over $13 million, and the WWE contributed a big piece of that pie, which explains their heavy promotion of the site/service. Zack Ryder (the WWE Superstar best known for “getting over” using Twitter and social media (check out 1:15, since I can’t seem to get the embedding to work, grrr):
…is featured heavily on Tout’s home page:
…and when I signed up (I’ll likely never use it, but what the hell, better to have and not need than need and not have) all of my recommended followers were WWE personalities, likely because of the search history on this machine while writing this article:
The WWE is purportedly going to let the WWE Universe determine some of the creative direction of the show and help steer programming- by Touting to the WWE, of course! Touts will be added to both live and pre-recorded broadcasts.
Personally, I think this is a smart move by the WWE. Consumption of online video is only growing; a study in 2011 showed that people watching Netflix were accounting for as much as 30% of all Internet traffic during primetime:
Not only is Netflix 30% of primetime traffic, but look at what else is up there, with YouTube at 11% and Flash video at 5%. That means that nearly 50% of all traffic during prime time for March 2011 was essentially “people watching videos”.
More and more phones are being released with front-facing cameras, more and more tablet devices include similar cameras, and the price of webcams has dropped to the point where an HD webcam can be had for as little as $35. The speed at which video can be uploaded and downloaded on mobile devices is increasing all the time as faster, cheaper better phones come out and the major carriers upgrade their networks. The Kindle Fire 2 and Google Nexus 7, the summer’s splashiest entrants into the small-form tablet fray, both have front-facing cameras- the only practical application of which is really video chat, as taking pictures with a front facing camera is sort of a ridiculous proposition.
People love to consume video because it’s easier than reading, and you can be a lot more creative with video than you can with text. We are moving towards a web primarily composed of video, and getting in on the ground floor allows the WWE to remain in its position of relative dominance of social media, when compared to other entertainment brands. The WWE is especially good at using social media to maintain intimacy with the fans even when they aren’t watching the show or interacting with the various digital properties, and since pro wrestling is such a visual medium, Tout seems like a perfect fit for their strategy of continuing storylines and fan outreach and promotion through social media. A service like Tout is also right in the WWE’s wheelhouse demographically. Let’s look at some data about video sharing:
and finally, the WWE’s audience demographic, straight from the WWE Ad Sales page (the data is from 2009, so take it with a grain of salt):
61% are male
15% are ages 12-17
67% are ages 18-49
41% are males 18-34
33% are non-white
29% have a HHI of 75K or higher
15% have a HHI of 100K or higher
63% played games online
52% listened to music
51% watched streaming video
87% of our visitors own a cell phone
32% downloaded something to their cell phone within the past 30 days
15% downloaded a ringtone to their cell phone within the past 30 days
The service, the brand and the demographic all intersect nicely, making this practically a no-brainer. I’d be willing to bet that they see a better return on their Tout investment than they do for the WWE films division in 2013- especially if the site takes off.
As an avid WWE fan, the constant references to social media during broadcasts have become tiresome- maybe because I work in marketing also- and adding Tout is only going to irritate media-savvy viewers even more; though it’s not likely many will even realize the WWE’s financial interest in Tout. For the company and stockholders though, this is a very smart move.
Tout and the WWE Universe are a perfect fit!