The 2014 World Cup figures to be the biggest television event of the year, with 3.2 billion viewers expected to tune in worldwide.
That audience would be more than six times the size of the 500 million people the International Olympic Committee estimates watched the Winter Olympics this past February.
Here in the United States, the event is an even bigger deal to the television industry, since the majority of the games will be aired exclusively on cable and satellite networks ESPN and Univision.
At a time when more and more consumers are choosing to quit paying for television, it’s a huge feather in cable’s cap to be the only place Americans can (legally) watch their national team’s first three tournament matches.
But now, one of cable television’s biggest rivals is crashing the party.
According to a report from Ad Age, YouTube will run an ad during every World Cup game in the Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City markets as part of a campaign that seems designed to persuade the tournament’s majority-male viewership to migrate to their computers once the games are over.
The ads will promote two of the Google-owned video-sharing platform’s most popular content providers: the humorous hip-hop duo “Epic Rap Battles of History,” and the gritty, gonzo journalism purveyor Vice News, whose parent company Vice Media has been in the news recently due to rumours surrounding a potential investment from Time Warner.
The campaign is significant in part because YouTube’s expansive, free content offerings have helped give many young people the alternative entertainment they need to feel comfortable skipping out on an expensive cable bill.
And over the past two years, Google has been doing everything in its power to convince major brands like Procter & Gamble and Bud Light to spend their advertising budgets on YouTube instead of television, which currently claims about $US66 billion in U.S. ad money annually.
One of YouTube’s biggest recent initiatives to woo these big brand advertisers, as opposed to the smaller players that have traditionally filled the coffers of web media properties, has been a wide-scale advertising push to turn its most popular stars into household names.
The strategy serves to alleviate concerns expressed by brands that the company was not giving its content the same amount of promotion that TV networks provide when they launch a new show.
In April and May, YouTube made a massive outlay to put three of its biggest female video creators on national television, as well as on billboards, subway trains, and transit stops in Chicago and New York City.
But while YouTube’s first three advertising stars make videos about fashion, makeup, and cooking, the latest campaign seems aimed at letting men know the platform has something for them, as well.
Both Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD, the two comedic vocalists behind “Epic Rap Battles of History,” are men, and Vice Media’s affluent, youthful audience is 64% male, according to literature provided to prospective advertisers.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not so, the U.S. audience for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was also 64% male.
If YouTube’s strategy is on point, those men will love comedic hip-hop and news about war as much as they love soccer.
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