In 2012, the WWE invested money in a fledgeling social media platform called ‘Tout’. It is the focus of this latest ‘Well That Didn’t Work‘ as we look at yet another of Vince McMahon and the WWE’s attempts to have success outside of the squared circle.
What is Tout?
Tout is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and view 15-second videos, known as “touts”. Back in early 2010, Tout spun off as its own company and gained widespread popularity the following summer when Shaquille O’Neal used it to announce his retirement from Basketball.
On July 11, 2012, WWE invested in Tout Industries, Inc.’s (“Tout”) Series B Preferred Stock and in July 2012, WWE entered into a two-year strategic partnership in Tout. By this point, Tout had over 12 million visitors since its launch with 75 million Touts having been shared on the site.
Because of the investment, Stephanie McMahon would appear on the Board of Directors for Tout. When the 1000th episode of Raw aired on TV, the WWE began hyping the social media platform and urged viewers to send in touts sharing their favourite moments from the history of WWE Raw. According to Mashable, Tout was downloaded by iOS and Android users over 30,000 times since Raw aired on July 16th and over a million Tout posts were watched during and after the show
Eventually, WWE superstars also began to use the platform, largely cutting short promos on other superstars. It was even used by Brock Lesnar to announce his kayfabe retirement from the business that year.
In 2014, the WWE’s much-touted (geddit?) partnership with the company ended and soon after the company, unsurprisingly, stopped promoting it. Gone was all the hype, which had long since passed overkill, for the app and, mercifully, all the short video clips of fans being broadcast weekly on Raw.
As per Tout’s corporate website, it now has 57m unique visitors and the company now promotes itself as a way of creating and sharing content for websites, pitching itself hard at media outlets.
Why did it fail the WWE?
In all reality, Tout was basically Vine but with 8 extra seconds. As pitches go, it’s not the best… Vine, however, was able to succeed in no small part to humorous videos as opposed to lads sitting in their bedrooms commenting on wrestling on TV…
Perhaps you can chalk this up as another thing that Vince got interested in initially but quickly lost interest in. On TV, it became yet another social media platform to be plugged to an extent that makes Braun Strowman’s current push look like a slow burner. We were told on a weekly basis that Tout was the next big thing and the social media platform we all needed but there was little, or no, evidence that this was really the case.
By all accounts, Vince and the WWE were able to make their investment back before allowing the two-year strategic partnership to end without seeking to renew.
Personally, I never used Tout and, other than seeing them on TV, never sought out a tout to watch at the time or since. Something tells me I wasn’t the only one. Considering the social media reach that the WWE boasts, Tout couldn’t come close to competing with those numbers. In Tout’s defence, the WWE had no idea how to promote the platform other than battering us over the head with it – they took the quantity over quality approach and I’m sure I cannot be the only viewer that was annoyed by it.
Got any thoughts on Tout? Leave them below. Hell, record a Tout and share if you really want…
You can read all previous ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ pieces here.