Baumgartner; The only way is down

This weekend I watched that nutter Baumgarten jump out of a capsule at 128,000 feet and break the sound barrier vertically, aided by nothing other than gravity and an iron will.

Big jumpI watched it live via the youtube streaming service which I am reliably told attracted 8 million viewers.  There’s some discussion about how many were actually watching concurrently but I bet the vast majority were watching when he stepped off the plate.  I know my son was, because he texted me at that moment, elegantly summing up all his literary genius from his secondary education environment; “Holy Cr4p” he said.

The 8m viewers took YouTube a little by surprise as the most they’ve ever streamed before to (concurrently and live) was about 500,000 (Olympics, Kate and Wills’ wedding) and after that only 150k for a show by the Gangnam Style Korean guy, Psy.  Knocking these numbers out of the park probably took sponsors RedBull by surprise too, although they will have anticipated a good turnout for such a stunt. One thing’s for sure, that’ll go straight onto one marketing managers CV.

But what was a pleasure was to enjoy the event ad-free and continuous. If this had been on TV it would’ve been buried in not just RedBull ads but also ads for screen-wipes (his visor frosted up apparently) and probably for incontinence pants too (needs little in the way of explanation).

Youtube did this without breaking sweat and no doubt will want to do more of it as it exploits their extensive investments in video streaming nicely.  And with 8m dedicated viewers glued to different devices doing goodness only knows what they could attract a handsome ad revenue too if they chose to.

But RedBull were the real winners. They have consistently matched their energy drink with extreme sports and despite the “but he didn’t have wings” jokes, the event was a social media smash and right on brand.  And if YouTube do decide to introduce a form of monetisation for events like this RedBull will be tempted to arrange the streaming themselves leaving YT to find another big-audience live event to stream.

Candidates will no doubt include a new record by Tory MP Andrew “Pleb” Mitchell being shoved out parachute-less from a capsule at 200,000 feet or something. Now I’d watch that even with the ads.

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