On November 4th, Outlander will be back on Starz to provide audiences around the world with plenty of intrigue, historical adventure, and of course some steamy romance scenes. With the show’s upcoming Season 4 premiere, we take a look at all the official Outlander videos uploaded by Starz over the last few years to see how the network drives viewers’ obsession with the series, both during its traditional TV airings and between each highly-anticipated season. In our search, we also discovered fans are contributing to the Outlander craze through plenty of user-generated content.
Here’s what we found:
Most Views on Outlander Content Hail from Teasers and Trailers
Whenever someone who hasn’t seen Outlander asks me what it’s about, I’m never quite sure where to start. My usual reply goes something like this: “Wellllll… it’s a historical-romance-drama series with hints of science fiction and fantasy because this 1940’s English nurse touches magical stones in Scotland and goes back in time 200 years and falls in love, even though she’s already married in the present — that is, the ‘40s…” Yes, this original Starz series is that complicated, but it’s also so compelling that we discovered fans around the world are eager to lay their eyes on as many Outlander videos as they can.
Four official Starz and Outlander social video accounts provided an interesting overview of the network’s digital strategy, which is heavily reliant on the show’s official Facebook page; seven of the top ten most-watched clips under these accounts were videos on that platform alone. Additionally, across all of Starz’s official accounts (YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram included), nine of out the top ten Outlander videos are teasers and trailers released a couple months before the premiere of a new season or before the return of one currently on a break, arguably to amp up anticipation.
The Outlander clip with the highest view count, for example, was uploaded in July 2017 and introduces the show’s Season 3 premiere date on September 10; this video came away with 6.1 million views, an average 30-day view count (V30) of 5.8 million, and an average 30-day engagement rate (ER30) of 1.3x (just over the average engagement of most Facebook videos). This trailer may have received more views because of the month-long gap between Seasons 2 and 3, whereas the wait between Seasons 1 and 2 was a mere 10 days, so there was more anticipation for the 3rd season.
Based on the high view count for the Season 3 trailer, we thought maybe Season 4’s trailer would attract even more viewers, mainly because Outlander audiences had to wait almost an entire year for the release of this newest season (a length of time now referred to by many as “Droughtlander”). Surely with a longer wait, the heart grows fonder and fans desperately want to see the newest trailer, right? Well, as it turns out, Season 4’s trailer pulled in 2.7 million views, 3.4 million fewer than Season 3. We’re guessing the Droughtlander affected the interest and attention of fans, as did the general lack of Season 4 trailers during early 2018 (videos uploaded during these first few months merely hinted at the season’s arrival without providing any real footage).
That being said, teasers and trailers for Outlander have performed well overall, with only two of the top ten clips dating from 2018. It seems as the popularity of the show increased over the years, as did the number of uploads Starz made: the network produced 136 videos in 2014, around 160 each in 2015 and 2016, and hit 325 in 2017. For this current year, Starz has uploaded 114 official videos. Views have also quadrupled from 21.7 million in 2014 to 83.6 million in 2017. As a whole, audiences have generated 199.5 million views on Outlander videos to date!
Reviewing this information, we can see that the more often Starz uploaded official Outlander videos, the more often the network saw overall view counts increase.
But what about engagement? Let’s take a look at that next.
Outlander Videos Boast Higher-Than-Normal Engagement
Any television network would love to see high engagement on their social video accounts, which is the fortunate reality for Starz in regard to its Outlander properties. On Facebook, the show’s official count has an average ER30 of 1.9x (i.e. almost twice as engaging than the average Facebook video)! Even Starz’s YouTube audiences generate an ER30 of 1.1x (slight above average for YouTube videos); all of these figures are something to be proud of, considering they’re all above the average baseline engagement rate.
When we look back at the top ten most-watched Outlander videos, we see that while the 6th most-popular clip may not boast the highest number of views, it was still the most popular in terms of engagement. The season 4 teaser, uploaded in July 2018, claims an ER30 of 1.8x! The video actually shares this ER30 with another clip, one that wasn’t actually a teaser or trailer and instead featured Outlander star Sam Heughan walking in the 2016 Tartan Day Parade.
Clearly, Starz has dedicated Outlander fans who are more than willing to interact with the show’s official content, even if it’s just teasers and trailers. I say “just” because for many brands, a digital strategy often includes a wide variety of video content, like behind-the-scenes footage or interviews with the show’s celebrities. This is proving a success in the sports vertical where largely rights-restricted sports leagues are driving views through interviews and exclusive access with teams and players.
Starz may not be on this type of content bandwagon yet (with the exception of the parade footage noted above); however, we bet if the network started producing more types of Outlander content, it would see not just more views, but also lots more engagement from adoring fans, both during and between season airings.
Starz Benefits from Solid Audience Development Strategies
As we’ve seen so far, Starz is finding great success with its official Outlander videos. Part of this success could be attributed to the network’s audience development strategy, which we noticed was adjusted over the years with the likely goal of driving the right audiences on the right platforms to join its subscription service for more Outlander goodies.
For example, in 2014 Starz uploaded more content to YouTube (82 videos) than Facebook (51 videos). So far in 2018, the network has switched its strategy to focus on Facebook with 40 video uploads and even Twitter with 42 videos uploaded, both platforms which provide Starz fantastic views and average engagement rates. All the network needs to do now is pay attention to whether or not this holds true in the coming months and years, and be ready to swap up its development strategy as needed.
In general, however, Starz’s uploads aren’t different for each platform in terms of the type of content. Other than length, as well as a very smart inclusion of “tap for sound” text on some of its more recent Facebook videos (since the social site auto-mutes all clips), all Outlander videos across each Starz account look similar to each other, pulling snippets of the show’s trailers and teasers. Could the network get more views and engagement if it tailored its videos to each individual platform? The answer is likely yes, so if that happens, we’d be curious to see how it affects Outlander video stats.
Additionally, Starz has been able to drive interest in Outlander indirectly through the passion of its fans via user-generated content. Perhaps Starz’s limited selection of videos is what spurs the imagination and creativity of these Outlander aficionados, who are clearly willing to develop their own videos based on their obsession with the show. When we expanded our Tubular search outside of the official Outlander accounts, for example, we saw videos ranging from lyric videos of the show’s theme song “The Skye Boat Song” to scene compilations set to modern music, usually featuring the romance and sexual relationship between the main characters Jamie and Claire. Really, it’s hard to find any fan-made Outlander videos which don’t fawn all over this couple!
Starz has already announced Outlander will be back for Seasons 5 and 6, which means the network has plenty of opportunities to expand upon its social video strategy for the series and potentially draw in a larger audience over the next few years. For now, though, you’ll catch me and millions of other Outlander fans eagerly awaiting Season 4 to start. Slàinte mhath!