Overtime has built its business connecting directly with athletes, especially rising young stars who haven’t yet gone pro, by sharing their stories and video clips.
So as the entire sporting world took a collective pause amid the coronavirus outbreak, Overtime CEO Dan Porter and his staff began to hear a similar story from those who have played their last game or lost a chance to compete for a championship.
“We all just got together on the content and the community side and said, ‘wow, our fans – many of whom are athletes – are really upset,” Porter said. “How can we tell their stories, whether they’re famous or not, and really celebrate them and wrap up their season on our platform?”
That sentiment helped birth Overtime’s #WhosNXT social media campaign, which asks followers to share and nominate other athletes to tell the stories of their sports seasons or how they are handling the collective sporting pause.
The stories come in a variety of different ways for Overtime. One type consists of 40 to 60-second videos of communities coming together during the pandemic. Another is people tagging Overtime in their IG stories with their personal anecdotes.
After it debuted on March 15, the #WhosNXT campaign on social media has already generated more than 8.1 million views across Overtime’s Instagram and TikTok accounts, according to the company. On Instagram, engagement for #WhosNXT posts is 55% higher than the 2020 US Sports Media average for video posts on the platform, according to Tubular.
One video that featured on Overtime’s Instagram profile came from Abad Viquez, an amateur wheelchair basketball player. He and his team, the Houston Hotwheels, were supposed to travel to Kansas for a tournament when it ultimately was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Another Overtime video featured Jalen Suggs, ranked No. 5 on the 2020 ESPN 100 for high school basketball, who had committed to Gonzaga in early January. His team, Minnehaha Academy, finished as the No. 13 team in the country according to MaxPreps, after a season that included a 20- point win over Sierra Canyon and Bronny James in front of 17,378 fans at the Target Center.
Minnehaha Academy wasn’t able to compete in the Section 5 Class 3A title, and Suggs is no longer participating in McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic next month, which have both been canceled.
It’s not just high-school basketball players or John Calipari that Overtime is paying attention to. When using Slack to brainstorm which players should be emphasized in #WhosNXT, someone reached out to Marc Kohn, Overtime’s chief content officer, about providing spotlight to another type of athlete.
“I got hit up on the side by someone who says that their little cousin was all upset because she wasn’t going to get a chance to compete in their dance competition,” Kohn said. “We were like, ‘okay, we don’t want to just do this around high-school seniors and basketball. We want to open this up because there’s a lot of people who are missing that moment. We wanted to give them that final chance to have the opportunity to kind of take a bow in a way.’”
Despite the fact that sports are on hiatus, both Kohn and Porter are not worried about a sudden decline in the company’s social media output. Porter estimates that Overtime has already stockpiled roughly 1,000 video clips ready for programming, and he and Kohn believe that they have enough programming to continue operating for the next three months.
Outside of #WhosNXT, Overtime is expected to release a new content series about a football team in Arkansas. It is still releasing new episodes of the YouTube show, “Fear Nothing,” starring high-school basketball player Mikey Williams. It still is leaning into its newly purchased Fortnite team as the sports media outlet continues to invest in esports, Porter said.
While nothing can replace the content taken from live sporting events, Porter thinks that Overtime will still be able to thrive.
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“For our audience, and I can only speak for our audience, you know, there are hundreds of hours of content, and it’s all still relevant,” Porter said. “It’s like going to Netflix and saying, ‘hey, if you guys don’t have any new shows, are people still going to be able to watch Netflix? And the answer is, yeah.’”
“Is it ideal? No, of course, going to games is ideal, but I feel really good about where we are,” he added.