As Bleacher Report gears up for NBA All-Star weekend, the publisher sees itself in a position to take what is digital and make it physical.
This starts with the company’s House of Highlights activation in Charlotte, where there will be everything from a studio and a gaming room, to a basketball gym and live video programming.
The first large-scale activation of its kind for the sub-brand, the opportunity comes at a time when Howard Mittman, CRO and CMO of Bleacher Report sees a shifting landscape when it comes to the digital media space that he wants to make sure they take advantage of.
“This activation is based on this sentiment that I’ve been increasingly more interested in when it comes to how we take things from the digital world and create experiences in the physical world.”
Last’s year’s activation at the All-Star game in L.A. was the first example of this shift and one that started what has become a multistep process of rolling out B/R’s experience practice and their series of live events.
While the goal is to take the digital and make it physical, they will also be taking the physical and making it digital.
“What we are essentially doing is building out this enormous footprint to serve as a physical set that we are using to just capture social content,” said Mittman talking about what their content strategy looked like over the course of the weekend. “Although we expect more than 4,000 people to show up over the course of the day, we are focused on how we can use the space to create content that will manifest itself online to our 40 million or so social followers.”
Not only has the live experience side of the business powered content, but it has also helped when it comes to partnerships with brands like Intel, Ruffles, McDonald’s and more.
No longer just trying to sell digital assets, they are able to bring what Mittman calls a “holistic set of solutions” to the table for partners.
In just a few years, they’ve been able to change the conversation from trying to pitch partners to finding solutions for partners.
“We find ourselves in the position now where we’re going to ask them (partners) what their challenges are, what their needs are, and then almost reverse engineer from where it is that they want to get to at the end of the campaign,” added Mittman. “This allows us to pick and pull the different aspects or elements from inside our arsenal that work for them or that they’re interested in.”
It’s this process that has allowed the company to more than double the revenue for just its All-Star activation alone.
Along with the House of Highlights presence, the company will also be showcasing its new World Tour line, of which it just recently dropped the first collaboration of the line with Dwyane Wade.
The D. Wade World Tour line of T-Shirts, long sleeves, hoodies, and hats will feature iconic moments from Wade's career.
The collaboration includes three separate "drops" planned with Wade, each with a different concept of the World Tour theme. pic.twitter.com/xbPtqlLukU
— Front Office Sports (@frntofficesport) February 5, 2019
Mittman declined to say how many units the collaboration had sold, but added some color saying that it “blew up” and that between this collaboration and others they have run with The Roots, 21 Savage, and Vin Staples has created an “interesting mix of content and commerce” for the brand.
With content powering the engine, Bleacher Report and Mittman, in particular, see commerce as an additional revenue opportunity that allows them to not only provide athletes with a whole new way to create buzz, but also gives the publisher a whole new content experience.
“A traditional content experience allows you to capture content and sell against it. This allows us to capture content, sell ads against that, and then share in the revenue opportunities with the athlete or celebrity.”
Mittman believes that this type of opportunity will change how athletes approach some of their marketing and press opportunities.
“If you’re an A-list celebrity or athlete and you’re doing a press tour, do you want to do a magazine shoot where they don’t pay you or do you want to do a content and commerce shoot where you have more exposure and have the opportunity to monetize it.”
What size!? https://t.co/bmvdtOM56T
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 5, 2019
This has caught the eye of others too. Mentioning that he received multiple emails from groups outside looking to sell the merch alongside B/R inside their activation, becoming some evolution of a DTC company isn’t out of the question.
“If we can start to be known as a shop that is able to offer DTC connections and consumer experiences not just with the content we make but with the commerce we can drive, I have a sense that it will probably start to evolve out into an entirely different category of business relative to what a traditional sports and commerce experience looks like.”
As more of these opportunities pop up, they become reasons in which consumers either have to get the B/R app, experience it, and even purchase in the app.
And while Mittman is bullish on the experiences and the commerce revenue opportunities, the platform remains B/R’s biggest focus thanks to what they feel can be the gateway to the second generation of social media.
“For us, the biggest bet we are making is that the first generation of social media was about connecting you to the world and that the second generation is about connecting you to your world. That’s what we are trying to do. We are not going to be Facebook, we do not want to compete with them, but we do firmly believe that we have the chance to create a more niche-based platform for people who love sports and crave it in different forms.”