Bat flips, buzzer-beaters and trick shots: fans are seeking more sports videos online

Move aside recipe demos and movie trailers, sports fans are increasingly searching for buzzer-beaters, bat flips, game highlights and amazing athletic feats online.

Viral video stars Dude Perfect bolster sports fandom by showcasing skills, tricks and stunts

YouTube stars Dude Perfect on humble beginnings and scoring 50 million views 1:36

Move aside recipe demos and movie trailers, sports fans are increasingly searching for buzzer-beaters, bat flips, game highlights and amazing athletic feats online.  

This past March, for instance, U.S. basketball fans watched 3 million hours of March Madness-related videos online during just the first four rounds, according to YouTube.

In recent years, the video-sharing site has seen online searches for sports highlights climb.

Meanwhile, buzzworthy moments such as Toronto Raptor Kyle Lowry's recent final-second half court shot or Toronto Blue Jay Jose Bautista's dramatic toss of his bat have been watched and rewatched endlessly online by sports fans.

Audiences today expect to see all sorts of video content online instantly, said Cory Cotton, a member of Dude Perfect, YouTube's largest sports-related channel.

"It's just on demand — it's what people want to watch, whenever they want to watch it," he said.

"People search everything on YouTube." 

Dude Perfect is a tricks and stunt group comprising five best friends and former college roommates: Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, Tyler Toney, and twins Coby and Cory Cotton. They boast more than 9.8 million subscribers, with the most popular Dude Perfect videos having racked up between 40 to 50 million views apiece.

"When we first started  obviously YouTube was a successful platform already at that time, but there were not a lot of sports videos. It was more like the goofy, funny, short, almost meme-style videos," Toney told CBC News on Wednesday, when the group dropped into Toronto for a visit with Canadian fans.

The DIY nature of the online video community has contributed to the surge of videos since, because "anyone can create content and they can create content about whatever they want," Toney explained. 

"People look at us and see us making fun videos with friends and they think to themselves 'Why can't I do that and post it on YouTube as well and find the same success?' It puts everybody on the same level, same platform."

And it seems the audience is noticing this proliferation of sports-related content: according to a recent Google/Ipsos Connect tally, 50 per cent of Canadian respondents said they check YouTube first when looking for a behind-the-scenes view of a sports or fitness activity. 

The five members of successful internet troupe Dude Perfect run YouTube's biggest sports channel, with more than 9.7 million subscribers. (YouTube/Dude Perfect)

'The sixth member of Dude Perfect'

Indeed the web-savvy Dude Perfect crew is now able to make a living through their online videos showing the guys executing clever, impossible-looking sports tricks — while seemingly having the best time ever. 

Whether sinking the world's longest blindfolded basketball hook shot or sending a ping pong ball through an intricately designed obstacle course, each feat ends with wild celebration, yelling and congratulations. 

"The stunts, I think that's what got people's attention at first, but then as we've continued to make content...we hear a lot that people feel like they're the sixth member of Dude Perfect and we love hearing that. People feel like they have become friends with us," Cotton said. 

The guys often team up with and take inspiration for new challenges from world-class sports professionals,such as champion trick-shot pool player Florian Kohler or Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg [The Leg] Zuerlein.

Memorable videos include scoring a 10-pin strike with a bowling ball launched off the opposing ledge of a skate park ramp or the slickly produced, lighthearted series on stereotypes, like the entry highlighting gym-goer archetypes such as the "No idea what I'm doing" guy, the "Screamer" and the "Gallon of water" guy.

"We started almost seven years ago and just started out with a basketball trick shot video in our back yard. Had no intentions of creating a business or a brand or anything like that," Toney said.

"Three years ago we all decided to go Dude Perfect full time...We are just very blessed that we get to do this for a living and very humbled we have the fan base that we do."