The House of Highlights Showdown franchise blends unique sports competitions with top online creators to produce a singular social content series that directly connects with Gen Z audiences. It was created specifically to address the interest and consumption habits of a young digitally-native audience and built on delivering across three objectives:
Deliver Compelling Creator Lead Content
Top online creators command social followings equal to or in many cases larger than most professional athletes. House of Highlights has tapped into this popularity with the HoH Showdown. The concept is simple: cast top online creators in sports competitions against one another and stream it live. HoH Showdown mines rich content from the creator economy putting it on the biggest social sports platform in the world – House of Highlights. It is authentic sports content for Gen Z at its best.
Engage Audiences with Interactive Features
HoH Showdown takes interactivity to the next level by empowering its competitors to engage directly with fans for the event. Real-time conversation and engagement with creators who have an aggregate follower count in the tens of millions creates reach and a connection to the content. Unique to Showdown – audiences can also influence the outcome of the competition based on their online votes/interaction with content in real-time. This fun, and seamless, interactivity drives engagement along with brand awareness and value for sponsors.
Innovate a Distribution Model
In a fractured media landscape, grabbing audiences through a mix of distribution channels is critical. This is especially true for Gen Z audiences. Intrinsic to the HoH Showdown is a co-distribution model that lets the competitors livestream and promote the event across their own channels. This aggregation model expands the already massive reach of HoH by multiples and almost as importantly, forges an authentic connection between the HoH brand, creators and their fans.
House of Highlights has pioneered a completely new content experience designed to engage the increasingly hard to reach Gen Z audience by tapping into a network of top online creators. The most recent Morning Consult report on Gen Z sports fans, recognizes an overall decline in young sports fans. The HoH Showdown reaches these fans by serving them content in a format they recognize and enjoy, all the while bringing them deeper into the HoH and Bleacher Report ecosystems.
There have been creator competitions livestreamed from ‘hype houses’ in the past, but never has a major sports media brand brought top online creators with vastly different audiences and fans in one place to compete head-to-head. Through its efforts, House of Highlights has become a significant creator platform, providing best-in-class production value and unmatched distribution.
An added layer to the content experience is the way fans can interact and influence the competitions via engagement. HoH Showdown uses the chat or comment section in YouTube to give fans the opportunity to post an emoji – this year a pizza emoji to support Showdown sponsor Pizza Hut – that would boost competitors chances in the event. This mechanism was also used to reward audiences with exclusive HoH Showdown merchandise that they could only receive by commenting in real-time.
The co-distribution model helped lift overall social views, engagements and live concurrent views (doubling that reach in particular). Whether it was in lead up to the event with carefully curated posts and clip outs across TikTok, IG, and Twitter or the event itself hosted on YouTube, the B/R app and creator channels, there was a constant and creative mix of promotion that reached audiences on their preferred platforms. This model reinforced an authentic connection between the content and audiences, allowing for creators to interact directly with their fans in their own feeds or across HoH channels.
The HoH Showdown delivered on every significant measurement metric used in digital media. The franchise – comprised of three separate livestream events in 2022: HoH Showdown: Knockout (Feb), HoH Showdown: Dodgeball (July), and HoH Showdown: Slamball (Dec) – generated more than 300 million social views and 19 million engagements across all the major platforms. The HoH Showdown: Dodgeball was the most successful livestream event across of all of Bleacher Report and House of Highlights in 2022 and trended #1 globally on YouTube for 24 hours.
HoH Showdown: Dodgeball was also a shining example of House of Highlights’ creator led strategy, which differentiates it amongst the competitive set. The event was hosted live at RDC World’s Dream Con, one of the largest fan events for gamers and online creators in the U.S. Hundreds of fans turned out to watch the competition IRL and cheer on their favorite stars all the while following and engaging with the event on mobile.
As it relates to overall strategy, there is no other sports media company that has leaned into online creators like HoH. The brand, which is constantly evolving alongside social trends, has recognized the creator space as a meaningful channel to reach and resonate with Gen Z audiences. As such it has created a separate HoH YouTube channel devoted specifically to creator content and additional series’ beyond Showdown that leverage the popularity of these personalities.
Showdown also supports a wider effort by B/R and HoH to create new, must-see livestream events that will engage audiences and drive conversation amongst them. B/R and HoH are focused on creating live events around ‘moments that matter’ to capture audiences in real-time and Showdown is a meaningful example of this effort.
When looking at the impact and influence Showdown has had, there are few better performance indicators for social than trending on YouTube and HoH Showdown has trended in the #1 spot globally on YouTube...twice. The franchise is appointment viewing for Gen Z audiences that taps into the zeitgeist, reaching them as few other content offerings can.
Bottom line, the HoH Showdown franchise is one of the most unique and influential content series’ in the social media landscape today and has helped propel House of Highlights as the #1 most viewed and followed sports brand on social with more than 27.7 billion views and 62.6 cross-platform followers in 2022.