While the St. Louis Blues have seen the value of YouTube from a content perspective, they always struggled to find time to build on it.
But with the NHL season remaining on hold through April 30, the team has a chance to revisit the historic Stanley Cup run of 2019 and produce content to serve the team and the Blues’ brand.
“We realized for some time now that there were more opportunities on YouTube that we can take advantage of,” Matt Gardner, the Blues’ vice president of digital media and emerging technology, said. “This ultimately was a great time for us to use this pause in the NHL season to take a step back and determine some different ways that we can focus.”
When mulling over new content ideas, Gardner’s attention shifted towards YouTube, which he believed could help the Blues produce more material and grow their audience size.
Gardner was particularly intrigued by the power of YouTube’s video-first approach. After finding past success utilizing apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for video purposes, it motivated him and the Blues to invest more heavily into YouTube.
From the moment that the Blues won the Stanley Cup on June 12, 2019, they were presented with incredible amounts of footage, Gardner said. The team’s camera crew was able to shoot every possible moment, from the Blues’ on-ice celebration to bringing the Stanley Cup back to St. Louis.
Realizing the amount of footage at he and his staff’s disposal, Gardner saw the opportunity to build something big out of it. On March 29, the Blues released the first episode of “History Made: Director’s Cut,” a series presented by Bud Light that provides viewers never-before-seen footage of the 24 hours following the Blues’ championship win.
Aided by the premiere of “History Made,” the Blues were able to add 6,500 new subscribers to their YouTube channel, which currently boasts more than 22,300.
Over the last 90 days, the Blues have seen roughly 212,000 unique viewers on their YouTube profile – about a 360% increase, Gardner said. They have also been able to generate more than 3.6 million impressions and see an 87% rise in average view time on videos.
“We were able to determine that, based on the footage we had, we could really extend this into a multiple-episode, limited-time series,” he said.
The “History Made” documentary was initially supposed to only last two episodes, Gardner said. The positive response from fans has inspired the Blues to extend it to four. They have since released two more episodes: “March Down Market” – an inside look into the team’s championship parade – and “Summer With The Champs,” where viewers are able to see a players’ day with the Stanley Cup trophy.
Thanks to “History Made,” the Blues have been building upon their first step in their YouTube evolution – get more content out there, Gardner said.
Since bringing more than 6,500 new subscribers to their channel, the next step is to continue creating original content, followed by potential monetization opportunities. Thus far, two of the Blues’ three “History Made” episodes have been presented by existing Blues partners Bud Light and Dobbs.
During the pause, the Blues will continue to lean on Blue Note Productions, their in-house production team, on new ideas for limited-edition series. The focus will stay on YouTube, which Gardner feels is the easiest way for fans and their families to consume Blues content at home.
“There’s no better time than when you have a little bit of a step back – like we have now – to focus on how you can continue to move your business forward to hopefully make a much larger impact down the road,” he said.