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Dive Into Steph Curry’s Life With ‘Stephen vs. the Game’ This Spring

The new Facebook Watch series “Stephen vs. the Game” goes behind the scenes of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s life.

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Photo credit: Unanimous Media

As the Golden State Warriors prepare for yet another playoff run, a docuseries about star point guard Steph Curry is preparing for its release.

Unanimous Media and Facebook partnered for the upcoming six-episode “Stephen vs. the Game,” which chronicles Curry’s season. The exact premiere date is still yet to be determined, but it will air exclusively on Facebook Watch.

Along with footage of Curry and the Warriors, the documentary promises to give an in-depth look at what drives the player from his family to faith and behind-the-scenes footage from last year’s NBA Championship run and childhood footage.

“This past year has been an incredible chapter in my life — from the birth of my first son to winning a third championship — and we’ve been capturing it all,” Curry said. “This series is deeply personal, providing an in-depth look into the pivotal moments from the last year and exploring everything that is important to me. It’s been a fun project to work on with my Unanimous team and Facebook. I have incredible fans, and I’m excited to share my life with them in a way I never really have before.”

It was that fanbase community on Facebook that helped spurred this project, said Jeron Smith, CEO of Unanimous Media, a company he founded with Erick Peyton.

READ MORE: ‘We Are LAFC’ Shows Off Exclusive Content Opportunity for MLS, ESPN

“Stephen has cultivated a vibrant community on Facebook and has always had a strong partnership with the platform,” Smith said. “We’ve worked with them on a handful of initiatives and have leveraged the platform to raise support and awareness for important causes like Nothing But Nets and Nia Wilson’s family.

“They were putting an emphasis on Facebook Watch programming and the concept developed from there.”

The series is produced by Unanimous Media and Religion of Sports and directed by Gotham Chopra, and it’s the second installment of Facebook Watch’s “VS” series — the first of which was “Tom vs. Time,” a series from last year following New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s season as a 40-year-old in the NFL.

Chopra co-founded Religion of Sports with Brady and former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan aiming to create content, ranging from short-form video, feature films and podcasts to answer “Why sports matter.”

“Stephen has an amazing story that should really resonate with the Facebook community, which makes him the perfect next subject for our ‘VS’ series,” Chopra said. “A lot of people have heard about his faith, but I don’t think they know the half of it. Being able to ride shotgun with Stephen across this historic season and get a glimpse into the three foundational elements of his life — faith, family, and hoops — has been an amazing ride and something, I think, millions around the world will be fascinated by.”

Like Brady’s quest to cement his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time, Curry has become a transcendent basketball player who is shaping how fans and players alike look at the game.

“Stephen vs. the Game” is a simple extension of the platform Curry has already established with his fans.

“Facebook Watch enables you to build a community around a show and use social media to build community and engage with fans, which is really important to Stephen,” Smith said. “Stephen’s social-media presence has always been engaging and genuine, and we saw this as a natural extension of what he’s already doing while offering fans a richer storytelling experience and honest look at who he really is.”

As for Unanimous Media, Smith said the company wants to continue to establish itself as a trusted brand delivering high-quality entertainment.

READ MORE: Whistle Sports Looks to Long-Form Content for More Opportunities

Unanimous Media has multiple additional projects underway, including “Emanuel,” a documentary following the survivors and family members of the 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. The documentary debuts in June.

Also in the works by Unanimous Media is “Benedict Men,” a series looking at the St. Benedict’s Prep high school basketball team from Newark, New Jersey, and “Breakthrough,” a drama based on the Joyce Smith book, “The Impossible.”

“For all of our projects, we aim to create unique and compelling content that brings people together and entertains, and ‘Stephen vs. the Game’ is another example of this,” Smith said. “It will undoubtedly give fans an unprecedented glimpse into Stephen’s life.

“Many of our stories are anchored in inspiration — we strive to encourage, empower and uplift audiences through a variety of diverse narratives. We want to work on projects that move people, with storylines and narratives that draw people in.”

Pat Evans is a writer based in Las Vegas, focusing on sports business, food, and beverage. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2012. He's written two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer. Evans can be reached at pat@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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