El Rey Network's breakout hit, Lucha Underground is a hybrid TV series/wrestling promotion that combines the high quality narrative and production values of prestige television, with the visceral excitement of professional lucha libre. It has been referred to as "The Breaking Bad of wrestling," (and with its current 9.3 rating on IMDB, who are we to argue?)
While this genre-defying mix made it unlike anything else on TV, it also made marketing a challenge.
Not only did one-year-old El Rey Network's, small, internal Social and Creative teams, hereafter referred to as "we," need to build a fanbase from scratch, starting only one month from the premiere, but we needed to do so as an underdog in an industry (Pro Wrestling) dominated for nearly two decades by a single, monolithic organization, known as WWE.
As a supernatural leaning TV show about a wrestling promotion, we needed to not only overcome people's preconceived notions about what a 'wrestling show' should be, but also about lucha libre itself, as it differs greatly from what American wrestling fans are used to.
Lucha Underground is the kind of thing where once you see it, you get it, and once you get it, you can't get enough of it. So with that in mind, we embarked on a mission to create a robust, cross-platform video strategy to show the Internet Wrestling Community (and the world) what we had to offer.
Lucha Underground airs on television for one hour a week, but wrestling fandom is 24/7. We knew that once fans were hooked, one hour a week wouldn't be enough.
With a deep roster of characters that needed to be introduced, and an intricately unfolding narrative, based on a sport with a rich cultural history, we set out to write, produce and shoot hours of ancillary content, exclusively for our social channels.
Combined with highlights and full matches from each episode, these videos would be released episodically, timed to the narrative of the show, starting several weeks before premiere, and concluding 10 months later at the end of the 39-episode season.
Each video would serve double duty, both as a way to keep fans engaged, and as a touchpoint for potential new fans through both organic sharing and a highly targeted paid social campaign.
We also decided that our social channels would "maintain kayfabe" at all costs. This means that nearly everything on our social channels takes place within the universe of the show, and doesn't break the fourth wall. For example, our interviews are with characters on the show, not the talent that portray them.
Lucha Underground has something for everyone, and we felt that in order to best market the show, we needed a variety of different types of videos to showcase different aspects:
Meet The Warriors: To introduce new characters, or further existing storylines outside of the one-hour weekly broadcast, we created a videos in which characters 'cut a promo' explaining their motivations calling out opponents, or simply to hype the audience.
Outside with Vampiro – With the help of one of Lucha Underground's announcers, lucha legend, Vampiro, we created several series of videos that educated fans on a variety of topics, ranging from 'how-to' videos of wrestling basics, to providing the history of Boyle Heights, from the local cemetery,
to the mental hospital, paying respect to where the show is taped.
In Ring Action
Highlights: Every week we cut a 1–2 minute highlight reel with the hardest hits from that week's episode. Leading to the 2-part season finale, we recut 37 episodes worth of highlights into one supercut, dubbed "37 Hours of Lucha Underground in 37 Minutes," which provided both new and existing fans with a season long refresher to make sure they were ready for the finale.
Fight of the Week: We did something no other wrestling promotion with a weekly show does: release complete wrestling matches on our social handles, for free, every week. Even without access to El Rey Network, fans could legally sample our show.
To make sure that as many qualified leads as possible saw our content, we developed a highly targeted paid social campaign, and optimized it on a weekly basis.
So, what did we get for all that trouble?
On Facebook we had over 4.2 MILLION video from April (when Facebook began providing video insights) to the end of our campaign in August.
Also on Facebook, our 231 videos had an average engagement score of 965 out of 1000, obliterating the average engagement score for the entire TV industry by over 220 points (744).
Our videos played a crucial role in making our overall Facebook campaign nearly TWICE as engaging as our nearest wrestling industry competitors.
On YouTube, Lucha Underground videos on the El Rey channel received over 580,000 views and 1.75 MILLION minutes watched (Source: YouTube.) That's over 3.5 YEARS worth of views!
Our Fight of the Week playlist had an average view duration of 5:35 minutes: 110x more than what Facebook and Twitter count as a video view (3 sec.)
As far as our paid efforts go, on Facebook, across all videos, we had an average Cost Per Video View of ONE CENT. We even had some videos average a fraction of a cent. It literally cannot get any better than that.
Overall, our video strategy was successful enough for us do it again, but BIGGER for Season 2. You'll hear all about it in next year's entry.