Superheroes and Nostalgia Drive Warner Bros. Social Video Strategy
Since 1923, Warner Bros. has been one of the leading entertainment brands in the film and television industries. Founded by four brothers whose family had emigrated to Canada from present-day Poland, Warner Bros. is known for contributing some of the most famous entertainment titles to date, such as the Looney Tunes animations and characters and the World War II romantic classic Casablanca. The company was originally named Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. but now operates under the title Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Regardless of what it’s called, the company not only knows its way around the silver screen, but around the small, social one, as well.
Across the main social video platforms, all Warner Bros.’ properties boast more than 200 million followers and subscribers. These fans routinely visit the brand’s social video accounts for content related to their favorite franchises, like Harry Potter, The Lego Movie, and anything having to do with Superman, Batman, and other DC Comics characters (more on that in a bit). We took a deep dive into some of the top-level Warner Bros. film and entertainment-related social accounts to see how the company operates its online video strategies as well as what content performs best on various platforms. Here’s what we found:
Warner Bros. Has a Sweet Spot with Comic Book Content
Warner Bros. is closely tied to its comic book property DC Comics, which recently contributed the blockbuster hit Wonder Woman to Warner Bros.’ summer repertoire. As of now, the Gal Gadot-starring flick has pulled in just over $ 407 million in the U.S. alone, a good $ 77 million more than DC’s 2016 Batman v Superman. Clips based on Wonder Woman didn’t perform so shabbily, either, with official trailers and teasers for the film pulling in millions of views each.
But it’s not Wonder Woman videos which have landed in the top ten spots on official Warner Bros.’ social video channels. Instead, that distinction belongs to some of the Amazonian warrior’s fellow counterparts in the DC universe (despite some of their films performing less favorably than hers). Five out of the top ten clips, in fact, relate to either Batman, Superman, or the gang of ruffians from the Suicide Squad franchise.
The Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad films were highly anticipated in their own ways over the last few years, so it’s unsurprising videos related to these flicks are some of the most popular Warner Bros. content to date. For example, the first official trailer for Suicide Squad, posted on January 20 of 2016, has garnered over 82.7 million views to date, as well as a favorable 30-day average engagement rate (ER30) of 1.2x and an average 30-day view count (V30) of 38.9 million. The trailer currently holds the third position of most-watched videos across all Warner Bros. social accounts.
While the trailer for Suicide Squad was certainly impressive in terms of views and ER30, fans of comic book content watched the film’s first-look teaser even more. That clip, released at Comic-Con in 2015, generated an impressive 48.1 million V30. The video with the next-highest V30 was the 2015 Comic-Con trailer for Batman v Superman, at 42.7 million. This teaser also claims the title of most-commented video of all time for Warner Bros. Pictures with just over 98k comments on YouTube alone.
Ed Sheeran Contributes His Talents for Warner Bros.’ Most-Watched Video of All Time
At this point, it’s obvious Warner Bros. is closely linked to DC Comics. In many cases, the two can almost be considered inseparable. However, the entertainment company’s most-watched video of all time actually stems from another well-loved franchise which has more to do with hobbits, elves, and dragons than it has to do with flying men, vigilante superheroes, and Amazonian warriors.
The clip in question is the music video “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran (whose recent album release helped land him top positions on the leaderboards for a few months running earlier this year). The song was created for the Warner Bros.-distributed film The Hobbit, and the combination of the wildly popular British singer-songwriter and one of the most beloved book and film franchises of all time ensured the clip’s long-term success. The music video claims almost 85.2 million views to date.
“I See Fire” also hit home with viewers around the world, as the clip generated great engagement rates across various social platforms. On YouTube, the Sheeran-led song saw 590k total engagements, while on Facebook, the video pulled in 218k engagements in the form of likes, shares, and comments.
Don’t Forget the Cat and Mouse Duo of Tom & Jerry
When analyzing most of the top-level properties of Warner Bros., including some of its home entertainment division and television outlets, we discovered another interesting viewing preference of the company’s audiences. Years ago, viewers turned their attention to the old cartoon Tom & Jerry.
Originally launching as a series of short films in 1940, Tom & Jerry has become one of the most well-recognized animation brands in the entire world. In 2006, Warner Bros. created a new series based on the cat-and-mouse duo which is always battling each other for superiority through slapstick humor. Now, three of the top ten clips on Warner. Bros. social accounts stem from Tom & Jerry content.
The second most-popular video of all time, for example, is a March 2010 snippet from season one of Warner Bros. Tom & Jerry Tales. This video currently boasts 83.3 million total views, roughly 2 million short of Sheeran’s “I See Fire” music video. Additionally, spots #8 and #9 on the top ten Warner Bros. videos belong to Tom & Jerry clips, too.
Much like Warner Bros.’s #1 Hobbit-related video, the nostalgia of the Tom & Jerry franchise is likely a contributor to these clips’ success. When these videos were published to YouTube in 2010 and 2013, other platforms weren’t the big video destinations they are today, and both Gen X-ers and millennials who grew up with Saturday morning cartoons were already familiar with the Tom & Jerry label. Therefore, it only made sense for Warner Bros. to distribute these clips on YouTube. Speaking of which…
YouTube Is the Platform of Choice for Warner Bros. Fans
While publishers around the globe have flocked to Facebook for its promise of massive audience reach, some have found their fans still want to spend time on YouTube with their content, and might even prefer to watch videos on that platform first and foremost. The U.S.-bsed Warner Bros. Pictures YouTube channel, for example, appears to be one of these brands, as the company boasts a large following of 4.4 million on that platform alone, accounting for 37% of Warner Bros. Pictures’ total social reach. And if you haven’t already noticed from the embeds in this article, all of the top ten videos across Warner Bros. social accounts from around the world are YouTube videos.
Here’s some more Tubular data showing the popularity of Warner Bros. Pictures content on YouTube
- 105 million total video views in July 2017, roughly 96% of all views on Warner Bros. content for the month
- 3 billion total views since the channel’s inception
- 2642 videos uploaded to Warner Bros. Pictures YouTube channel as of this writing
- 1.1 million average views per video
- 35.6% of YouTube audience hails from the United States
- 88.3% of total YouTube subscribers are male, with 42.5% of them aged 18-24
These stats can almost be replicated across all of Warner Bros.’ social video accounts. Even if the company has more followers on other social sites, the majority of its views still stem from YouTube. The Warner Bros. Entertainment account, for example, claims 62% of its social reach on Facebook, but still 96% of the company’s nearly 8.7 million July 2017 views came from YouTube.
The success of Warner Bros. on YouTube could be attributed to a number of factors, but the most likely cause is that film aficionados have been defaulting to YouTube for years when it comes to watching movie trailers and teasers. That habit can be hard for any other platform to break when YouTube is ingrained in fans’ viewing behaviors. Instead of fighting this situation, however, and trying to push similar content onto other platforms, Warner Bros. has embraced what format works best for its company on each social site, knowing YouTube is where its audience will go when it comes to watching 2- to 5-minute clips surrounding franchises its viewers love.
Warner Bros. Entertainment is a prime example of a brand which knows exactly what it stands for (entertaining viewers through movies and television) and serves that type of content exactly where its audience wants it (predominantly through YouTube). While other movie studios and TV networks have found success releasing small samples of video content on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Warner Bros. has deliberately stuck with YouTube, supplementing that platform strategy with videos spread across other sites. Unless something drastic happens, we suspect Warner Bros. to have continued success as a YouTube publisher for years to come.