Anatomy of a viral video: how Winsted’s ‘bear’ video became an overnight sensation

A collage of some of the many websites and news outlets the viral 'mama bear and her cubs' video ended up in. video ended
A collage of some of the many websites and news outlets the viral 'mama bear and her cubs' video ended up in.

WINSTED — Colebrook resident Robin Covelli probably never expected that a video that she shot would ever go viral, receiving more than 27 million views (and counting) all around the world.
But that is indeed what happened after she shot a video of a mama bear corralling her cubs, all of them crossing from one side of Rowley Street to another.
Covelli’s video has been featured on the websites of People Magazine, Yahoo News, The Daily Mail, The Today Show, CNN, and in newscasts all across the world.
The video shows the mama bear struggling to get her four cubs across the road, as a line of stopped traffic waits patiently.
While she carries one cub with her mouth to the other side and the other two cubs follow, the fourth cub climbs a telephone pole.
The fourth cub holds on to the pole, refusing to cross the road with the rest of its family.
The mama bear comes back for her last cub, but another cub follows with her.
For a minute or two, the mama bear struggles, but eventually gets the remaining two cubs across the road safely.
In an interview with The Winsted Phoenix, Covelli said the video all happened by chance during the afternoon of March 28.
“I was in Torrington running errands and I was on my way home until I came up to Winsted and traffic was stopped,” Covelli said. “I was like, this isn’t normal! What’s going on?”
Covelli said that she was a few cars back from where the bear and her cubs were.
“I got up to the front and I did a little videotaping, but the mother had a cub in her mouth and appeared to be stressed,” Covelli said. “She came toward my car with one of her cubs in her mouth. I couldn’t even tell if it was alive or not. I thought it got hit by a car and she was frantic. But she came close to my car and I didn’t want her to smash into it or damage it. She was on the grass and then I drove away.”
Covelli said that after visiting a store, she was driving back to the same location where traffic was, once again, stopped for the mama bear and her cubs.
“There were still cars there and I don’t know how I ended up with a front-row seat, but I pulled over and started my camera rolling,” she said. “I was not that far from them. Not even a telephone pole length away. I’m not so sure if the cubs were nervous or not, I think that they were just mischievous and curious. The one climbing the telephone pole looked like he had other things on his agenda.”
After she got home, Covelli shared the video with her mother.
“She asked me if I was going to share it on Facebook, and I told her I don’t know because I wasn’t going to post it,” she said. “But I did at 8 p.m. on that night. Before I went to bed, I had 971 shares. I woke up the next morning to a message from a guy from the company ViralHog that said he wanted to discuss licensing the video with me. I had no clue what he was talking about and I thought it was a scam.”
According to its website, ViralHog is a company out of Bozeman, Montana, that markets and sells the rights to viral videos to various news organizations and media companies.
Eventually, Covelli sold the licensing of the video to ViralHog, which is how the video has ended up on various television shows and media websites all around the world.
Covelli said she has made money from the viral video, but she is not entirely sure how much she will end up with.
“I was just searching on the web to see how much a viral video can make,” she said. “Something like this does not happen to many people. It could make hundreds of thousands, it could make $10,000. Who knows.”
However, beyond the viral video, Covelli said she could relate to the mama bear and what she saw.
“I have four children of my own, so it hit home seeing this,” she said. “To put it in a nutshell, this is all a mom’s life from a bear’s point of view.”

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