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Overtime: A Sports Network for the Next Generation

Tapping into a young demographic of Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube users, Overtime has built a community of fans that help contribute to its success.

Bailey Knecht

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Overtime

With nearly 900,000 Instagram followers and videos that generate roughly half a billion views per month, Overtime has cemented itself as one of the leaders in high school sports video content.

“We’re building a platform for Gen Z and millennials who watch sports content made for them on platforms they love, by leveraging technology,” said Overtime Co-Founder and President Zack Weiner.

Catering to a teenage demographic by using new technology and popular social media platforms, the digital-media startup produces extensive high school and amateur sports coverage, with particular emphasis on basketball.

Instead of covering the biggest names in sports like mainstream media empires, Overtime zeroes in on younger players with high potential, which Weiner said is an area with endless opportunities.

SEE MORE: New NBA Sneaker Rule Opens Up a Rainbow of Opportunities 

“One of our areas of focus is the next generation of top athletes, like, ‘Who’s up next?’” he said. “If you think about that, it’s more dispersed than college and professionals because there are all these different clubs and AAU teams and high school events.”

Tapping into that younger generation by sharing the stories of young athletes is how Overtime thrives.

“High school stars are so big because if I’m a teenage kid, I can relate to Zion Williamson when he’s in high school, studying for finals and doing the same things, and I see him on Instagram talking the same way as me,” Weiner said. “We lean into that culture. As a brand, we talk in that same voice and show that side.”

“I think part of it is not taking sports too literally — younger fans want to see [athletes] intersect with culture, off the court and field,” he added. “The bottom line is, the reason why YouTube stars are famous is because they look and act and feel like their audience.”

SEE MORE: How Organizations Can Drive Revenue Using Live Social Video

For highlights, Overtime has its fingerprints all over the country, with videographers in gyms across the nation.

“Using technology, we’ve built a camera app that allows our network of videographers to record on their phones and send us footage in real time from any game across the world,” Weiner said.

With the OT Camera app, videographers can capture big plays and edit the clips themselves, which can then instantly be exported across the internet. The company has a social team dedicated to sharing the user-generated clips with lightning-quick speed.

“Our social people can go in and see every highlight happening, and categorize it by location and athlete,” he said. “So, when something happens, we’re the first in the world to put it out there.”

Overtime has also created the OT VIP app, specifically for the athletes that get covered, so they can access their own highlights and mixtapes.

SEE MORE: Study Confirms Esports Has Graduated to the Big Leagues

Between the app and the traditional social media channels, it is clear that Weiner and his team have an all-encompassing understanding of how young people consume content. Overtime’s videos generate millions of minutes of watch time per month, but Weiner said that it’s not just snappy highlight packages that get eaten up by young fans.

“I think there’s a myth that younger fans only want short-form content,” he said. “They are interested in that…but kids are also binging Netflix. They still watch long-form; it just has to be good.”

To provide that diverse content, Overtime incorporates personalities like Overtime Larry, and recently signed sports personality Rachel DeMita.

In order to continue to grow, Overtime depends on funding from big-time venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Greycroft Ventures. A number of NBA figures have also invested in Overtime, including Kevin Durant and David Stern.

“NBA players are interested in working with us, investing with us, because they see trends more than anyone,” Weiner said. “They are able to give us their opinions on where they think the industry is headed. They have access to the industry as a whole.”

The company also brings in revenue by working with Fortune 500 brands, advertising and selling merchandise.

Weiner said that Overtime has been so successful because it sees its followers as more than just consumers.

“The word we used most is ‘community’ rather than ‘audience,’” he said. “Audience is easy to buy on various social platforms, but if you have community and people who love your brand, it makes it stronger over time and easier to monetize.”

Fans’ ability to interact and feel connected with Overtime has built a sense of loyalty between the company and its community.

“My goal is, in a couple of years, every kid in the world wakes up and thinks, ‘What does Overtime have for me today? What am I going to see today? What can I buy? How can I support them and be part of this community?’” said Weiner.

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.

Front Office Sports

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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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