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.
“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.
“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.”