At approximately 40KM above the Earth’s surface Felix Baumgartner stood outside of his capsule which had been propelled to the upper stratosphere by the largest hot air balloon to ever carry a human being. Then, with a global audience holding their collective breath, Felix said "We Live to conquer fears and pursue dreams, may our attempts and accomplishments progress humankind" and then jumped... falling at the speed of sound from a World Record Height. Felix provided us all with a moment which will long in the memory.
Images of mankind amazing us have been in constant supply this summer, from Mo Farah’s double gold medals, Andy Murray defying Britain’s Grand Slam Hoodoo, Ellie Simmonds dominating the Aquatics Centre in the Paralympics to Europe’s magnificent Ryder Cup victory. Felix’s achievement though was a flashback. It transported the audience to the days of the space race and the moon landing. It was a giant leap forward for exploration and testing the limits of our ingenuity.
Felix's fall from the heavens was also a glimpse of the future of broadcasting. Just like USSR broadcasting the first images to the world of the first manned Spacecraft in 1961, YouTube provided a similar global experience. It was a faultless stream, crystal clear quality and allowed 8 million viewers to enjoy the spectacle live. The importance of the platform’s broadcast can’t be underestimated. Cock it up and the world’s press, reporters and bloggers would have been on their backs.
It demonstrated that YouTube will be a force to be reckoned with in the future of broadcasting. With the financial might of Google behind them, this could be the first of many historic moments shown live across the world online. Many commentators have predicted the shift will occur, but maybe this was the moment which brought home the realisation to the broadcasting networks of the planet.
The jump into the unknown brings a lot of questions to the fore - can a traditional media model compete with YouTube’s on demand services? What will happen to global broadcasting rights if YouTube begin to show live sporting events such as the Premier League or Formula 1? How will it monitise its events? Will YouTube expand its pay-per-view offering? Or will they look to increase advertising rates through collecting even more data on their users?
The only “known” in these questions is YouTube will feature predominantly in shaping the landscape of broadcasting.
In another interesting side story, Red Bull have pushed the world of PR literally into the stratosphere. Taking a page from the PR playbook of Sir Richard Branson, Red Bull have generated global exposure for their brand. Their logo will be seen far beyond the 8 million views, the live feed of the YouTube channel alone had over 366,816,300 views not to mention the explosion of Tweets and Facebook likes from billions.
I would not like to be the one to try and work out the ROI on that campaign, the variables involved in cataloguing all of the data are simply mind blowing. However, it is a great problem to have and few marketing departments would complain about!
The Red Bull Stratos event was a triumph for human engineering, passion, determination, marketing and technology. Felix’s name may not remain in the memories of those millions around the world watching but the images will. It was the moment that YouTube flexed its muscles and announced to the world its true possibilities.
For your entertainment:
Images Courtesy of https://www.redbullcontentpool.com/