Case Study

SilverLine Athletics Uses Online Video to Build Highly Targeted Networks For Digital Sponsorships

We continue to use Brightcove because Brightcove is constantly adding functionality, which enables us to expand our services
Holden ComeauCo-founder and COO, SilverLine Athletics

SilverLine Athletics uses video to connect global sponsors to a highly attractive demographic of endurance sports athletes. The company developed a partnership network of endurance sporting events to help event managers become prolific video publishers and digitally engage more effectively with athletes. “We are invested in the strength of the relationship between an event partner and their participants,” states Holden Comeau, co-founder and COO of SilverLine Athletics. “When an event’s audience engagement and loyalty grows, our business grows. This demographic is extremely valuable to brands, which is how we monetize the relationship. We use video to put brands and their messages in front of passionate athletes, and we do it in a very authentic and efficient manner.”

Video Is at the Core of SilverLine’s Service

SilverLine has partnerships with 45 event production companies, which produce more than 300 endurance sporting events in the U.S. SilverLine’s infrastructure enables its event partners to curate and create video, and develop multi-platform distribution strategies to expand their reach, engage more deeply, and measure interactions. As Comeau explains, it is a hub-spoke distribution model. At the center of it all is the Brightcove online video platform. SilverLine currently hosts around 3,000 videos annually using the Brightcove platform to centralize management.

“We built a video management portal on top of the Brightcove content management (CMS) API. When we begin working with a new event partner, we build a custom portal using Brightcove Gallery, which sits alongside the event’s existing website; so, it’s really easy to upload a video once and publish it to the website and social media networks, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter,” explains Comeau. “Plus, Brightcove scales, which is critical as we grow our partner network.”

More than 30 million athletes in the U.S. participate in endurance sporting events each year, ranging from 5k road races to triathlons. On average, these athletes engage with their events for a significant portion of the year, continuously checking websites and social media for relevant content, information and updates from the event. “Athletes live and breathe their events for an extended period of time,” notes Comeau.

Comeau points to one event partner, DelMoSports, who tapped into the power of video to grow from producing a single, small event, which drew fewer than 1,000 participants, to producing numerous events, including an Ironman 70.3 triathlon. The number of registered athletes grew alongside the evolution of DelMoSports’ video strategy, from uploading a handful of selfie videos to publishing more than 100 behind-the-scenes, FAQ, and sponsored content videos. In fact, almost every video DelMoSports publishes now generates more views than the number of athletes registered for an event. When DelMoSports realized video was connecting them with viewers beyond their events, they expanded their use of video to incorporate sponsors, creating new opportunities to generate revenue and promote their company brand.

The Power of Analytics

“Measurement is critical for us,” states Comeau. “We have two audiences for our analytics, event managers and brand partners. We provide them with data on the impact of their video and sponsorships, including the viewership for each video, what the engagement is like, and when and where the video is working.”

SilverLine also helps event managers optimize like publishers, highlighting what types of content will connect with participants and what are the right moments to push content to grow their events. It’s made a major difference in how the Marine Corps Marathon, one of SilverLine’s event partners, uses video. Initially, they were publishing videos on YouTube and only a fraction of the 40,000 registered athletes were viewing the videos. Using Brightcove analytics, SilverLine demonstrated that athletes actually were engaging with the marathon for several months prior to the event. As a result, the Marine Corps Marathon began to publish more videos and much earlier, and changed its strategy from high-production content, into adopting a more authentic and personal approach.

For example, Brightcove analytics showed traffic to the Marine Corps Marathon website had a huge spike early in the morning of race day. To take advantage of this, event management created a short, 60-second video using a drill sergeant to get the marathoners charged up. SilverLine pushed it live at 4 am on race day to the Marine Corps Marathon website and Facebook. By the time the race had started, viewership of the video had eclipsed the number of runners in the event. “This is a simple example of how strategic distribution of video content can have a big impact, and it’s one of the key services we offer our partners,” states Comeau.

The Strategy Behind Monetizing Video

With an established partner network in place, SilverLine is monetizing video for events by marketing to sponsors. “We’re excited about our ability to monetize through sponsored and native content,” states Comeau. “These events hold a tremendous amount of digital media value. We understand the audience and deliver a great deal of insight about the athletes in each event. We provide brands with a significant amount of value and access.”

The endurance sports industry is fragmented, with most events focusing on participants in a limited geographic area. It isn’t efficient for large brands to develop media sponsorships directly with each of these individual events. SilverLine’s video publishing platform and partnership network connects brands to high-value audiences delivering standard media campaigns and deep, impactful custom media sponsorships. “We are bringing digital media sponsorship to what has been a traditionally offline sponsorship economy in the endurance sports industry,” states Comeau.

Expanding Functionality Enables New Services

Recently, SilverLine has been developing strategic partnerships that give rapid scale to the network of events under their umbrella. “These partnerships are possible in part because Brightcove gives us the flexibility to work with a number of different partners, in a number of different ways,” explains Comeau.

“We began using Brightcove because it is very easy for us to integrate with our partners’ websites. We continue to use Brightcove because Brightcove is constantly adding functionality, which enables us to expand our services,” concludes Comeau.