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Overtime Capitalizes on Women’s Basketball Buzz With OvertimeWBB

Bailey Knecht

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Photo credit: Overtime

Building on the Gen Z affinity for social media and all things internet-related, digital-media startup Overtime has cultivated a passionate following of sports fans over the past few years. Now, Overtime is now branching out into the women’s sports space with its own platform dedicated solely to women’s hoops — OvertimeWBB.

The platform, which already has nearly 200,000 Instagram followers, will cover women’s basketball at all levels, from youth basketball to the WNBA.

“We’ve obviously been proud of how we’ve done on the basketball, soccer, football and esports side, and we’ve been able to do some stuff in women’s sports, with different series and highlighting female athletes, and having female talent in Rachel DeMita, but we want to focus more on women’s sports in 2019,” said Overtime co-founder and president Zack Weiner. “It’s both the right thing to do, and it’s good business, because to be clear, it’s not just females interested in watching female athletes.”

OvertimeWBB is built on the foundation of the women’s basketball network She Hoops, which Overtime acquired last fall.

Chloe Pavlech, previously of She Hoops and a former University of Maryland player, is heading up programming for OvertimeWBB as Talent and Digital Content Manager.

READ MORE: Overtime’s Pop-Up Showcases Commerce Potential for Digital Brands

Women’s sports have been underrepresented for a very long time, and Overtime saw it as a chance to give more coverage to girls and young women who really deserve it,” Pavlech said. “Being able to provide more long-form content, outside of just the actual players, showing players for who they are, and finding and developing the different stories… it’s cool to be a part of that, and with Overtime, we have that bigger audience. Before, I just saw what I was doing as getting the whole women’s basketball community involved, and now it’s like, everyone needs to see how cool this is, not just the women’s basketball community.”

Pavlech has been pushing for more women’s basketball coverage for her entire career, but a void in coverage still exists, and in turn, a unique opportunity for Overtime to capitalize.

“It’s never really felt like there was a space for that, and that’s the whole reason this network has been created,” she said. “We realized that men had a space for highlights and cool plays, but there was none for women, and it wasn’t like women weren’t doing anything cool, but just that there wasn’t a space for them. It’s really a product of what you put out there because it’s not that girls weren’t doing cool things, it’s just that now people are able to see them on different mediums. It’s been incredible to see the interest.”

Overtime has seen steady growth since its founding in 2016, but until now, the platform hadn’t focused on female-specific coverage.

“It’s been really encouraging, particularly in this last year, how much the Overtime brand has meant,” Weiner said. “People all around the world know the Overtime brand, and it means something to them. The timing is right because Overtime is somewhat of an authority, not in terms of analysis, but around culture and around basketball. I think the timing really couldn’t be better. Viewership and interest in women’s basketball is at an all-time high, both at the WNBA level and at the grassroots level with upcoming stars.”

Pavlech added that the Gen Z demographic has a level of respect and veneration for women’s sports that has been hard to find in older generations, a fact that Overtime will take advantage of in its women’s basketball coverage.

“It’s really cool because right now, this is the first time I can remember that both sides support each other,” she said. “When I think about high school boys right now, they’re all close friends with the top high school girls, and I don’t ever remember it being like that. They post each others’ highlights, and you can see how much the guys support the girls.”

Before launching OvertimeWBB, it was imperative for Weiner and his team to nail down the perfect person to lead it. Luckily, Pavlech has had her finger on the pulse of women’s basketball for years.

“We needed to find the right person to run that, and Chloe so clearly is that,” Weiner said. “There’s a distinct advantage having someone so ingrained in that community and knowing what it’s like.”

“It’s rare that you can find someone that’s both a talent in terms of on-air, being a voice for Overtime, and someone that has more technical skills in terms of finding content and managing social, and Chloe has both,” he added. “We’re in the process of working on a show for her, which could be exciting. She’s got a voice on social and can integrate herself into the content, and that’s powerful. She’s a grinder, basically running OvertimeWBB on her own. We’ll be getting her support, but she’s driving it, and that’s great.”

One of OvertimeWBB’s goals is to push the limits of women’s basketball coverage, reaching beyond traditional highlights and telling the stories of emerging stars like Fran Belibi, Jamad Fiin and Zia Cooke. In keeping with the classic Overtime method, OvertimeWBB will emphasize younger players with high potential, offering easy access to players at a young age so fans can follow them as they develop throughout their career.

READ MORE: Overtime: A Sports Network for the Next Generation 

“I think it’s critical to Overtime’s success in general,” Weiner said of the ground-up approach. “Overtime feels very aspirational and also accessible, which is a rare combination. Everyone feels like, ‘I want to be on Overtime,’ and they feel they can make it because they see their peers at the same age on it. Getting fans invested is at the core of what we do, and we want to translate that to the women’s basketball side.”

“I think of someone like LeBron James and the coverage he’s had literally since seventh grade, and the parallel to Candace Parker,” added Pavlech. “If she would’ve had the same coverage as him since she was young, it would have been a completely different story.”

Considering the opportunities to highlight rising stars, Pavlech said the OvertimeWBB platform also has the power to push other media outlets to up their own women’s basketball coverage. As one of the most prominent platforms to dedicate a channel to exclusively to women’s hoops, Overtime is already set up to lead the charge.

“It’s taken so long until now, but that’s the coolest thing, that now we’re starting to see progress and a vision,” Pavlech said. “When I started, we wanted to promote and grow the women game and give women’s basketball a separate space, but what Overtime is doing is going to bring more coverage to the women’s game in general, and not just because it’s the quote-unquote ‘cool’ thing to do, but because there is a market there. It makes other outlets more competitive in covering women. That’s what we want, so to be at the forefront of that is huge.”

Bailey Knecht is a Northeastern University graduate and has worked for New Balance, the Boston Bruins and the Northeastern and UMass Lowell athletic departments. She covers media and marketing for Front Office Sports, with an emphasis on women's sports and basketball. She can be contacted at bailey@frntofficesport.com.

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Golf Digest Back Charging For Growth With New Owner

Golf Digest is set to embark on its third ownership transition in its nearly 70 years of operation and all signs point to growth under new owners.

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Photo Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Discovery, Inc. continues its drive into golf with the acquisition of Golf Digest.

Discovery had already entered the golf space, attaining exclusive rights deals outside the U.S. for the PGA Tour, European Tour and Ladies European Tour. GOLFTV, an international streaming service launched by Discovery this past New Year’s Day, is in year one of a 12-year, $2.4 billion deal carrying the PGA Tour’s TV and streaming rights outside the U.S. Discovery also has global content deals with Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari, using GOLFTV as its platform.

The bullish approach follows the trend of niche content in today’s media landscape. Discovery knows this firsthand with Food Network and MotorTrend. In sports, Discovery has had success with Eurosport and realizes sport fans crave consistent coverage.

READ MORE: The Caddie Network Partnership With Golf Digest Shows Power of Niche Platforms

“We’re looking to evolve our business and investing in content and genres that work for traditional and digital channels,” says Alex Kaplan, Discovery Golf president and general manager. “We learned from our experience with Eurosport Player, it’s very difficult to build an engaged fanbase when we offer multi-sport content.

“Let’s go deep into a specific vertical. Golf rights were available in an expansive way, and it’s not just compelling to watch, but fans play it, buy it, travel for it. It’s an ecosystem that was particularly compelling.”

The acquisition includes all brands under the Golf Digest brand, including Golf World, Golf Digest Schools and The Loop. According to the press release, Golf Digest attracts 4.8 million monthly readers and 60 million monthly video views. That’s along with its 2.2 million social followers.

This is Golf Digest’s third transition of ownership in its nearly 70 years of operation. All three have brought the media company different advantages, says Golf Digest editor Jerry Tarde, who’s been with the company for 42 years.

Tarde said The New York Times, which acquired the magazine in 1969, brought the basics and values of journalism, while Conde Nast, the owner since 2001, brought design, art and sophistication to the brand. Now, Tarde believes Discovery will bring growth.

Tarde, along with being editor-in-chief, gains a new title and role: Discovery Golf global head of strategy and content.

“This is an organization we’re at the heart of, in terms of developing sports and connecting with a high-value audience that’s passionate about the subject,” Tarde says. “This is the most exciting thing to happen to Golf Digest since it was founded in 1950. It lights a fire under us and gives us an opportunity to improve and expand U.S. coverage.

“We’ll also be able to extend it worldwide to more than 200 countries.”

On the other side of the equation, the acquisition gives Discovery a golf presence in the U.S. Kaplan said Discovery has been collecting its golf assets and knew an editorial vertical would be crucial, but it could take years to build. The Golf Digest acquisition allows Discovery to acquire that piece with one check.

“Our offering to golf fans and golf advertisers is now that of a global platform,” Kaplan says. “We can bring an aggregated golf audience anywhere in the world.”

READ MORE: GolfPass Could Set Standard in 21st-Century Sports Media

With a strong strategy in place, it will be business as usual for the time being, Tarde says, but there will be talk of new ideas and potential investments. Discovery will retain Golf Digest staff, continue the U.S. monthly print product and acquire global licenses for editions 70 countries.

“We’ve got a great team that’s been underutilized, really,” Tarde said. “Because of the way the publishing economy has been treated, our business has been in retreat. That’s now the way I spent my first 30 years. We were charging.

“This is the exciting part, we’re back on the charge.”

Like Tiger Woods on the prowl on Sunday.

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Inside the XFL’s New TV Deals

With nine months to go until its first game, the XFL has locked in its lineup of broadcast partners for all 43 regular season games.

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Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

With nine months to go until its first game, the XFL has locked in its lineup of broadcast partners.

The deals will see all 43 games appear on either broadcast or cable TV and will see them divided up between ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2.

What do you need to know?

1. – 24 of the XFL’s 43 games to be on broadcast TV (13 on ABC; 11 on Fox)

2. – According to Joe Flint of the WSJ, the deals are for three years, but no cash is changing hands.

3. – As part of the deals, the broadcast partners will cover the production costs of the games, which John Ourand notes will run $400,000 per game.

4. – Disney and Fox will keep all the television advertising inventory for the games while the XFL will handle the selling of sponsorships in the venues, according to Flint.

Will we see a repeat of 2001? 

The XFL’s reboot will come 19 years after McMahon and company attempted to make spring football a thing. Like the AAF this year, the league started with a promising opening night and then sputtered to the end. By the end of its first and only season, the XFL saw its ratings fall from a 9.5 to a 1.5 at their lowest point, according to OSW Review.

While the first time around may have not gone as planned, executives from all sides of the table are enthusiastic about the possibilities.

“The effort Vince is throwing behind it with his own personal capital and the combination of Fox and Disney platforms give us the best chance to make spring football work.” – ESPN programming chief Burke Magnus to Joe Flint of the WSJ.

Rolling into upfronts…

The announcement of the deals couldn’t have come at a more strategic time for all parties involved with upfronts scheduled to begin in six days. Given the fact that the broadcast partners will be responsible for selling ads, it would be rather surprising if the XFL inventory wasn’t included in their presentations.

Last year alone, the television upfront market for commercials generated $20.8 billion in commitment from advertisers, up 5.2% from the previous year, according to an estimate by Media Dynamics.

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Why Fewer Ad Breaks are Coming to the Super Bowl

Fox will be cutting back the number of commercial breaks for the big game by one, having only four breaks per quarter instead of five.

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Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

Next year’s Super Bowl might feel slightly different to viewers.

That’s because Fox will be cutting back the number of commercial breaks for the big game by one, having only four breaks per quarter instead of five, according to Brian Steinberg of Variety.

Fewer breaks, but the same amount of commercials…

Although Fox will be cutting down one whole commercial break each quarter, the four that remain will be slightly longer, allowing the broadcaster to still have the same amount of slots for advertisers even with fewer breaks in the action.

This isn’t a first for the NFL…

The league has been working with broadcast partners since last year to find new ways to deliver advertisements during telecasts. The initiative last year focused on delivering more sponsored vignettes and less “billboard” ads, a change that could be difficult at times for the networks seeing as in the past they have used the “billboard” inventory as bonuses to big-spending sponsors, according to Variety.

Why do they want to cut down? According to calculations from Streaming Observer’s Chris Brantner, the average NFL fan watches almost 24 hours of advertisements in a season.

Or other leagues…

As leagues battle for the attention of their consumers, making sure they give them less time to check their phone or change the channel has become a priority.

Earlier this year, MLB announced that it was planning to reduce each national commercial break by 25 seconds, NASCAR has been using split screen advertising since its days on ESPN back in 2011, and the NBA has done it with ESPN during timeouts.

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