How Halo 5 YouTube Live-stream Smashed All Sales Records for Xbox

How Halo 5 YouTube Live-stream Smashed All Sales Records for Xbox

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A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of the information sources that I use on a frequent and consistent basis to keep on top of video marketing news and insights. One is Think with Google. And video marketers are going to want to visit that not-so-secret previously disclosed location today to read a brand new case study about Microsoft Xbox’s launch of Halo 5: Guardians. Back in October 2015, Xbox hosted a six-hour live event that was streamed on YouTube for the launch of Halo 5: Guardians. This YouTube livestream helped Halo 5 break sales records. Here are the key results:

  • 700,000 people watched the complete live event.
  • 8 million people watched some portion of the show.
  • Halo 5: Guardians pushed the franchise to over $5 billion in sales.
  • 24M views of TrueView promo videos across all assets for the Halo 5 campaign.
  • The game became the #1 fastest-ever selling Xbox digital game in its opening week.

YouTube: Preferred Platform of Gamers

Now, that’s a case study that you’ll want to read – especially if you compete in the gaming category. According to a recent survey by Google, YouTube is the “preferred platform of gamers”, and is the top destination for gaming consumers to research content that may influence the games, and consoles they purchase. By the way, it’s worth noting that the survey found that 30% of YouTube gamers are female and over a third of them are actually above the 34-year-old millennial threshold. That’s why I asked a couple of months ago, “Are video advertisers targeting the right audience on YouTube?

And even if you don’t compete in the gaming category, you’ll want to understand how to host a live streaming event on YouTube – especially at a time when video marketers are trying to figure out when and how to use Facebook Live, Periscope, and Meerkat, while also reading rumors about YouTube Connect. Yes, livestreaming apps are the new-new things. But, do you know the best practices for holding a live broadcast? YouTube Live was launched back in April 2011. And although a number of concerts, sporting events, and interviews have been live streamed since then, very few brands have attempted anything like Microsoft Xbox’s six-hour live launch event on YouTube.

The one that many video marketers will remember watching is the much-anticipated wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Royal Wedding was live streamed 72 million times around the world to 188 countries. Those who didn’t see it live could don their fascinators and catch up with the re-broadcasts later in the day. When it was all said and done, the total streams that day reached 101 million as romantics around the globe watched the fairytale ceremony, the procession, and the final balcony kiss.

Now, the launch of Halo 5: Guardians was also much-anticipated, although by a much smaller number of fans. So, it’s worth noting that Xbox used a series of TrueView ads and YouTube desktop and mobile homepage mastheads to drive viewers to the live broadcast. Halo 5: Guardians and game-related hardware grossed over $400 million in its first 24 hours and $500 million in its first week. So, that appears to be a pretty good return on advertising spending (ROAS), (unless Microsoft had to pay a king’s ransom for the media campaign, which I don’t believe it did, although the amount spent is not disclosed).

Best Practice for YouTube Live Streaming

So, what other lessons can video marketers learn from the live event that was streamed on YouTube for the launch of Halo 5: Guardians? Well, here are some YouTube live best practices that you won’t find in the case study, but you will find in YouTube Help:

  • Test, and test again, at least 14 days before the event. You need to be prepared for any technical difficulties.
  • At least 1 day before the event you need to do a start to finish test, essentially a complete run-through of your live event.
  • YouTube recommends always encoding on a dedicated machine with a fast dual core or greater CPU.
  • Always test your event using the exact same ISPs and networks you will be using on the day. On the day itself, make sure you have an open connection to the Internet.

Okay, so maybe these long lists of “best practices” and “tips” also make live streaming look like it’s hard to do. Well, I’ve done it – and I learned one other lesson that isn’t listed above: Don’t broadcast anywhere that has a lot of background noise. But, I’ve also learned that you can use live streaming to create compelling content – especially if you provide your best customers or key influencers with:

  • Behind the scenes looks at major industry events.
  • Q&As with your top executives or industry experts.
  • How-tos that are valuable and beyond the obvious.
  • Products demos by experts or enthusiastic users.
  • Breaking news from your company or in your industry.

In these cases, live streaming is worth the candle – especially with the cost for broadcasting a live event continuing to drop with the use of smartphones and free apps.


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