YouTube TV is back as this year’s World Series presenting sponsor and as with last year, Google’s skinny bundle is once again dominating. Watching the game last night (go Sox!) it was impossible to not be exposed to the brand and also some very creative elements of the “Watch like a fan” campaign.
YouTube TV renewed its World Series sponsorship for 2018 and 2019 with MLB back in March of this year. As with 2017, before the first pitch was thrown, there was a highly produced 90 second ad. At first it looked like a promo for various Fox networks, though when the Google Home demo popped in it became clear it was for YouTube TV.
Back this year were the brand promotions behind home plate, including the red and white “play” button that’s almost centered on the screen, creating the illusion of a YouTube video. Also clever were the “double box” ads that appeared periodically throughout the broadcast where the live feed slid into a box beside YouTube TV messaging.
But the highlight of the campaign was the augmented reality screen that appeared above Fenway’s Green Monster in left field, seemingly part of the stadium itself. On the screen various video and text-based messages appeared. They were definitely an eye-grabber. Unfortunately they’re nowhere to be found on YouTube itself, though they’re embedded in this MLB article if you want to see them.
Last year’s sponsorship came out of nowhere given YouTube TV had just launched just 6 months earlier and only barely cleared all the top 50 markets’ Fox stations (which broadcast the games) in time for the opening pitch. YouTube executives said last year that the campaign drove strong awareness and signups.
Google has been extremely tight-lipped about how many subscribers YouTube TV has. The only credible estimate came from CNBC last January which pegged the number at 300,000. No doubt that’s way off base by now. And the 2018 World Series campaign will clearly drive subscribers even higher. Early Q3 2018 pay-TV earnings reports are showing anemic video subscriber totals, and skinny bundles including YouTube TV a significant contributor.