VR case study: School of Rock hits the stage with 360° YouTube Video

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School of Rock was ready to rock out on Broadway; all it needed was a platform to give fans a taste of the show. A 360° YouTube video reaching one million views in three days was just the ticket.

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The challenge

Andrew Lloyd Webber has been around the block enough to know when he's got a hit on his hands. And his latest show, School of Rock, was primed for success. Webber knew that if he could give people a feel for the show, they would come. The challenge was getting attention in the crowded Broadway market during the doubly crowded holiday season. To spark interest with local early adopters and potential travelers to New York City, Webber decided to go big. As in, 360 degrees big.

The solution

To give viewers a taste of that experience, Webber and Steam Motion and Sound UK created Broadway's first 360° video for YouTube.

When viewers interact with the content, they're in a "lean-forward, engaging-with-the-video position," said Barney Wragg, CEO of Really Useful Group, Webber's entertainment company. "The more people looked around and the more they engaged, the more they could experiment," Wragg continued. "And we think that was really rewarding for people."

Once people had a feel for the show, they could follow its YouTube channel, subscribe to its social media properties, and continue to receive messages, hopefully converting into ticket buyers as a result.

School of Rock's digital agency, Situation Interactive, put the distribution plan in place. The national media campaign, which centered on the 360° video, was designed to generate buzz leading up to opening night. A few months before the premiere, the cast performed on The Today Show, and Webber told viewers about the 360° YouTube video.

To reach potential ticket buyers across the country, the video was also heavily supported and promoted by a paid media campaign, including a short teaser and the full 360° video ad on YouTube's TrueView. "We specifically wanted to make sure that we got a lot of eyeballs on the video in those first two or three days and make sure that they were the right eyeballs," said Situation Interactive’s Executive Director of Client Services, Jeremy Kraus.

"When people are served pre-roll on YouTube, they've proactively made a choice to watch content. That means people are engaged and their sound is probably turned on. Other platforms are potentially more passive and people aren't necessarily primed to watch a video."

Webber knew he wanted to promote the content on YouTube, and Situation Interactive agreed. As Situation Interactive's Vice President of Media and Insights, Lisa Cecchini, put it: "When people are served pre-roll on YouTube, they've proactively made a choice to watch content. That means people are engaged and their sound is probably turned on. Other platforms are potentially more passive and people aren’t necessarily primed to watch a video."

Backed by a strong paid media campaign, the video was a huge success. It racked up one million views in three days, generated extensive press coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and BroadwayWorld and contributed to a spike in traffic on the show's website and ticketing website. The show is a certified hit: It broke the Winter Garden Theater's box office record twice over Christmas and regularly grosses over $1M a week.

The results

• 1M views in three days
• 550% spike in show's website traffic the week the video launched
• 160% spike in show's ticketing website traffic
• Show regularly grosses $1M/week

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