Social media has long been a digital driver for the hybrid sport/entertainment brand that is World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE now boasts more than 73 million Facebook fans, 30 million Twitter followers, one billion video views on YouTube and an average of 50 trending topics weekly on Twitter.
Now WWE has tapped social video startup Tout to leverage and amplify WWE’s assets including television, live events, digital and print. The partnership has helped the WWE garner 100 million fans globally. One of them — 27-year-old Alex Guerrero, Jr, from San Antonio, Texas — became WWE's 100 millionth fan, winning a free trip to Monday Night Raw’s 1,000th episode on USA Network, which is broadcasting live tonight from St. Louis, Mo.
WWE fans can now record and send 15-second video messages directly to its wrestlers (WWE prefers the term "Superstars") using Tout's free videosharing site and mobile app. Using your phone or tablet’s video camera, or your computer’s Web cam, record yourself, then click "Submit."
For Monday's night's 1,000th Raw telecast, WWE Superstars will be answering fans in a Q&A prior to the event, while Guerrero will appear on the show and be featured across WWE’s platforms including Tout, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and WWE.com. “Tout Tuesdays” are launching soon, so fans can discuss what happened on Monday Night Raw.
Tout’s smartphone and web platform for real-time video status updates lets users share with friends and family or on Facebook, Twitter, or personal websites via the Tout Widget and API able to capture 15-second videos with 2-clicks from the Web, iPhone, iPad or Android.
Celebrity ‘touters’ include Shaq, Katie Couric, Mitt Romney, The Rock, Jeff Probst, and Greta van Susteren, and media brands involved are Access Hollywood, USA Today, ESPN, CBS, The Weather Channel, National Geographic Channel, CNBC’s ‘Fast Money’, and C-SPAN.
“WWE looks forward to partnering with Tout to grow this innovative social media platform,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman and CEO about why he chose Tout over rivals such as Viddy and SocialCam. “Tout’s real-time video technology will become a critical component of fan interactivity in our weekly television programming and will be utilized to connect WWE directly with our fans in new ways.”
Tout is the technology spin-out of Stanford Research Institute that created Apple's Siri intelligent personal assistant, and secured $13.4m series B funding round from investors including WWE, 819 Capital, Gordon Crawford, and Stan Shuman & Jack Schneider from Allen & Co., joining previous investors SRI, Horizons Ventures and Seavest Ventures.
“We’ve assembled a powerful group of enthusiastic, hands-on investors who recognize the paradigm shift we’re seeing from a text-based to a visual – particularly video-centric — online experience,” comments Michael Downing, CEO, Tout. “WWE is in a class by itself as a media giant who has innovatively grown their business through social media,” he added. “We could not envision a better partner to show how the Tout platform powers high-impact, real-time engagement across broadcast TV, digital and live events.”
As increased bandwidth breathed new life into online video, social-mobile startups are attracting major investments. “We don’t see a ‘bubble’ in video. We are just scratching the tip of the iceberg” said Tout investor Paul Bricault of Greycroft Partners and incubator Amplify.LA.