World’s Strongest Man has launched a new show on Snapchat as the Endeavor-owned property is looking to shine a new light on its athletes.
The series, called World’s Strongest Man: Home Edition, features eight of the world’s most popular strongmen competing in two rounds of unusual strength obstacles. Each match-up will include a determined strength move – like deadlifts and overhead presses – which competitors are asked to compete with creative, at-home items.
“World’s Strongest Man: Home Edition is about providing fans of the sport an opportunity to see strongmen compete in a new way during these difficult times,” Mike Stricoff, Snap’s manager of sports content, wrote in an email. “We were excited about this project because the format of the competition encourages creativity as the athletes go about completing the at-home challenges put in front of them. This really helps the personalities of the athletes shine through in a way our audience hasn’t seen before.”
Fans will be able to swipe up after each weekly episode and vote for their favorite competitor based on performance and creativity. Voting will occur on the WSM: Home Edition’s voting site and, after two rounds, the top two competitors with the most votes will face-off in fan voting to claim WSM’s grand prize of $10,000. It launched with a trailer on May 4 and will run until July 13 as a precursor to the World’s Strongest Man 2020 event in November.
The partnership was built out of the success of other Endeavor-owned properties on Snapchat, centering on events like New York Fashion Week and Miss Universe, as well as with UFC.
“We did something with the UFC, where we started providing original content for the first time for Snap, and it did really, really well for them,” Mike Antinoro, senior vice president of programming and production at Endeavor Content’s Film 45, said. “They were super happy – it generated tons of engagement, a lot of new users, and a lot of views. It did well, so I think that demonstrated to them, ‘this is a pretty interesting relationship. If they can leverage content from their own properties and our audience loves it, there might be something there.’”
After the success of the Snap-UFC collaboration in December 2019, which focused on bringing more content to Snapchat’s Discover page, Antinoro reached out to the platform about work on another Endeavor property: WSM.
Talks regarding WSM and Snapchat began shortly after the UFC deal, Antinoro said. While he did acknowledge that both UFC and WSM are two different brands and would not yield the same results, he emphasized the strong engagement within the “strongman community.”
Antinoro believes that WSM’s long-standing history and reputation within strongman sports solidified Snap’s interest in it. He also saw a chance to leverage what is great about WSM – the contestants’ superhuman strength – with their bigger-than-life personas away from the competition.
Two strongmen on WSM: Home Edition are Eddie Williams and Rob Kearney. Williams made his debut at the 2019 Tachi Palace World’s Strongest Man event. In addition to his strongman reputation, the six-foot-four, 419-pound Australian is a youth support worker for children with autism and also a singer, musician, and author.
Kearney made his third appearance at the 2019 Tachi Palace World’s Strongest Man competition. The five-foot-nine, 298-pound American resides in Easthampton, Ma., and is the record holder for American Log Lift. He previously served as the director of sports medicine at The Williston Northampton School in Easthampton.
In October 2014, he revealed to The Huffington Post that he was gay, making him the first openly gay man to actively compete in a strongman competition at both a professional and international level. He is working towards becoming the first openly gay athlete to qualify for the WSM Final.
“There’s a lot of really interesting stories that we figured, ‘let’s give [the athletes] an opportunity to show their personality, but also, of course, continue to show the feats of strength,” Antinoro said. “That’s where we came up with the idea of, ‘hey, let’s let them decide what they’re going to lift and see where it goes, then we engage with them.’ As soon as we got them on board, all of them were very excited, and that’s how [the show] was born.”
Through four episodes, both Snap and WSM declined to comment on their show’s initial success. Stricoff noted that Snapchat is excited by the engagement thus far and is looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season performs and how audiences will react to being in charge of voting.
“The WSM team has done a fantastic job with such an innovative concept so far,” Stricoff added. “They applied their expertise on how to create the most entertaining WSM competition and reimagined that as a mobile-first, user-driven, stay-at-home experience.”
One way to predict WSM: Home Edition’s long-term success is by looking at the WSM brand’s social media presence as a whole. According to a WSM spokesperson, the company’s renewed focus on programming content across its digital platforms has led to spikes in watch time (+496%), engagement (87%), and audience growth (+40)% on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube.
With the bodybuilding genre continuing to perform well, Stricoff looks at WSM as a key partner in Snapchat’s efforts to further expand the content experience in that space. Antinoro also hopes that Snapchat and WSM can have WSM: Home Edition serve as inspiration for future creative projects between the pair.
“Long-term, we do feel like this is a brand that we can grow,” Antinoro said. “Right now, Strongest Man is the Super Bowl if you will. We have aspirations to grow the league out a little more, and so this is a good opportunity for some people that may not have paid attention to Strong Man to maybe do so over these next couple of months. That could only help us in the long run when we try to grow the actual property.”