We set out to create a platform for HBO's long-standing political comedy series Real Time with Bill Maher to embrace a new digital-native audience in the YouTube channel. Our aim was to increase subscribers, video views, awareness, and engagement by bolstering the Real Time YouTube Channel as the hub for all things RTWBM in the digital space – with exclusive content, live episode sampling and special live events.
The Real Time YouTube channel is the main digital arm of the show's live broadcast, which Bill Maher consistently drives to during the on-air broadcast. Immediately following the live Friday night airing each week, Real Time posts highlights from the show and continues the panel discussion with a live stream special called Overtime, in which Bill and his guests source questions from fans. The channel is also home to web exclusive content, including special editions of the show's infamous New Rules segment. For example, when Real Time landed a long sought after interview with President Obama, we uploaded the full, extended version to the channel, including exclusive moments that got cut from the on-air broadcast, which outperformed ratings for the linear show. We continue to partner with YouTube for opportunistic moments, including their Get Out the Vote Initiative, for which the show produced a custom New Rule. We also utilize the live stream function to broadcast special episodes for free, including 4 specials during the RNC and DNC Conventions and the Season 14 finale episode. As live streams are immediately archived for fans to watch for free, The YouTube channel has become our main episode sampling platform. By heavily promoting the channel on-air and across our social platforms, fans know exactly where to get their Real Time fix in the digital space.
The channel saw over 100MM views in 2016, showing significant YOY growth (+50%) and a gain of nearly 150K subscribers (+61%). Special live streaming events and full episode sampling, including the Convention Specials and season finale, drove significant growth and engagement for the YouTube channel. The 4 convention specials and the season finale full episode accounted for 5 of the top 8 best performing videos of 2016 by watch time. In sum, these 5 videos accounted for 16% of all minutes spent watching the channel in 2016. The President Obama Interview was the top performing video of the season, bringing in +3.9K subscribers and generating 24.4K shares. Special live events and sampling gained editorial placement and trending promotion on YouTube.