This past Saturday, a third of our country’s entire population tuned in to see The Tragically Hip perform for the last time in Kingston, ON.
This is second only to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics men’s gold-medal hockey game, which drew in over 16 million people.
Seriously, we could just end this Battle for Time right here with that fact alone (something nearly usurped hockey in Canada – gasp).
Alas, we will continue.
It was epic. The energy was tangible. Viewers everywhere, whether at the concert or not, were joined together that night.
This concert was the epitome of what it means to live in a world where digital has virtually (no pun intended) erased all idea of borders and limitations to accessing and distributing content.
This is what captured our minutes this week.
1. 11.7 million Canadians tuned in across television, radio and digital.
Yes, we’ve made this point. But it’s worth a second mention because it was facilitated so astoundingly.
CBC took the reins in broadcasting and streaming the concert on CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio, cbcmusic.ca, CBC apps, CBC Facebook and on the network’s YouTube channel.
Out of these channels, the TV broadcast alone brought in around 4 million viewers.
What an incredible opportunity for CBC to live up to its name as the nation’s public broadcaster. But what an even more epic opportunity for everyone, country-wide and world-wide to tune into what could be a once in a lifetime concert together.
People, whose dreams were dashed by tickets selling out in under a minute, had their opportunity with the Hip once again. People were united coast to coast, all being able to see, hear and feel the same things simultaneously. People even had viewing parties.
This is what it means to create shared experiences, barrier free. Spectators commented on Reddit coming from places as far as Australia and Beijing.
If this isn’t unprecedented world-wide viewing of content, we don’t know what is.
2. CBC handled the broadcast like a champ.
There were no commercials. No breaks. No announcer commentary. Just Ron Maclean throwing straight to “Canada’s Shakespeare.”
CBC proved their role as the soul of Canada on Saturday night. Though Canadians had reached out to the broadcaster to take this step, the broadcaster simply responded to fans with “one step ahead of ya.”
The broadcaster could have riddled the broadcast and streams with whatever they wanted, but instead, it just provided viewers with 3 uninterrupted hours of pure Tragically Hip - all 30 songs and all 3 encores included.
This is a true game-changing move. If you want to be a pessimist, you could say the broadcaster did it for the good press.
But that’s the point. The CBC did a great thing and deserves all the positive credit. How many other broadcasters can say they worked this hard to provide a concert for free to millions and millions of people?
Not many. This is true Canadian pride for a band that is known as “the musical chroniclers of our times.”
3. The broadcast and streaming of the concert wasn’t just a platform for the artist; it had a broader call to action.
Not only were millions in attendance (whether virtually or in person), but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also one of those lucky fans.
Lead singer Gord Downie took this opportunity with the leader of our nation to call out the action (or inaction) taken towards Canada’s relationship with First Nations peoples.
“He cares about the people way up north, that we were trained our entire lives to ignore, trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s going on up there. And what’s going on up there ain’t good. It’s not cool and everybody knows it.”
As much a praise of Trudeau’s power, it was also a reminder of what needs to be addressed. Simply put, it got the conversation going again. A conversation that’s usually skirted around.
With 11 million in attendance, this call to action was definitely heard.
While the concert could have been entirely dedicated to cancer awareness (and a large portion of it was, with some proceeds being donated to the Sunnybrook Foundation), Downie chose what he considered the bigger picture for Canada.
This can be taken as a good lesson in relevant messaging: if you have the power to leverage an entire audience, do so. Just make sure you do right by it.
Overall, this week’s winner was chosen because of the power it showed in joining together a world-wide audience in one explosive shared experience.
At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.
What will win this week?