On the 25th August 2018, something incredible happened. About 800,000 people bought a pay-per-view (PPV) boxing card online and a further 15,000 venue tickets were sold for the event at the Manchester Arena. So, a fairly normal boxing match. However, what was unique about this boxing card was that no fighter in the event was a professional boxer. In fact, none of them were even established amateurs. They were all well-known celebrities, and all became famous through new media. It was the Clash of YouTube Stars as Logan Paul and KSI went to war.
This was a boxing card completely generated online. Logan Paul has more than 18 million subscribers to his vlogs and nearly five million followers on YouTube. KSI has more than 19 million subscribers. They have had about four billion views each of their online content. Their younger brothers also fought each other on the undercard on Saturday. Jake Paul versus Deji. Jake with 16.4 million subscribers and nearly five billion views and Deji slightly lagging with only eight million subscribers. Various other lesser online stars paired off to batter each other throughout the night. Just $10 on YouTube brought the action to remote viewers.
A PPV buy rate of 800,000 is a solid number for a boxing event. It beat professional super fights such as Carl Froch against George Groves and pipped Tyson Fury versus Wladimir Klitschko. What’s more impressive is how two non-boxers took themselves off social media and YouTube to enter a new arena, generating this level of interest. As with all major ‘real’ boxing events, national newspapers such as the Independent and The Sun liveblogged the matches during the event. The BBC hyped the fights in the weeks of build-up, carrying their own content, including other boxers predicting how the fights would play out. YouTube has carried breakdowns of the fighters, analysis of the grudge and various other videos, all by other commentators building their brands and the excitement – just as with any other high-profile boxing match. In the last 30 days there have been more than 79 articles about the fight itself. So, how did we get here?
Logan Paul and KSI have both had their share of controversies, but remain among the most prominent of the new generation of media stars. They are relentless in their creation and posting of content which is relevant to their audience. They interact with other stars to create conversations and even arguments (hence stepping into the ring together), all in the name of building their brand. They work across media, including music and both have even branched out into acting. Through all this, their core work remains constant creation and promotion of themselves. Being candid on social media and YouTube also means their viewers feel closer to them.
There’s a lot that businesses can learn. Many communication plans still centre on traditional media relations, with social and other online outlets bolted on as an afterthought. While this is understandable, particularly for a company focusing on B2B sales, it does mean that great opportunities are being missed. Any business would be wise to consider that:
- New media content is cheap to produce, in fact, most YouTubers are filming on their phones and just uploading from there
- It can reach a wide audience – YouTube alone has more than 1.8 billion users a month, almost one third of the internet
- It is completely controllable by the user – no need to worry about what will or won’t find its way into print
- It can be embedded in websites and widely shared across social media, quickly and easily reaching more and more people
- Video content in particular is engaging, and a moving picture is worth far more than 1,000 words -particularly for tricky-to-explain products and concepts
- New media creates conversations and allows brands to closely engage with their customers – B2B or B2C
Of course, it isn’t the case that companies can simply forget the traditional media. There are still places where the new media can’t go. However, there’s a lot to be said for following the example of Logan Paul, KSI and their online colleagues. On 25th August 2018, the plucky young contender may not have completely taken the belt from the old guard, but it definitely showed it was a force to be reckoned with.
To discuss how you can best make use of new and online media, as well as boost your current communications, please get in touch with Hudson Sandler at firstname.lastname@example.org.