SBJ/June 19-25, 2017/Media

For SNY, summer is time to ‘keep learning’

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For the 11 years I’ve been at SportsBusiness Journal, I get pitched every summer to do a story on the untapped media potential for youth sports.

At one point or another, just about every media company has invested in youth sports, trying to find a gem like the Little League World Series, which provides some of ESPN’s biggest summer audiences. They all have found that youth sports has not gained any traction, at least not in traditional media.

One linear TV network has decided to take a different view of youth sports by focusing on nonlinear TV platforms. New York regional sports network SNY set up a partnership with the Overtime app backed by WME-IMG that will create youth sports clips from summer basketball tournaments in Gotham, like Hoops in the Sun, Dyckman and LES Express. Clips from the tournaments can be seen on both SNY’s linear TV channel and Overtime’s digital app.

Overtime will create an SNY channel on its app and SNY plans to sell a multiplatform sponsorship around it.

“Our goal this summer is to keep learning and hopefully set something up for the high school basketball season,” said SNY President Steve Raab.

SNY and the Overtime app are showing youth sports clips.
Overtime launched in 2015 as a social media network that traded on user-generated sports content, sometimes consisting of highlights from professional games recorded over a television set. The app has evolved into something that looks more akin to Snapchat or Instagram, featuring user-generated video streams, pictures and memes from various sporting events. The app gives users a sense of games from a fan’s viewpoint.

“The opportunity to partner and create content with a group that has real digital experience was too good to pass up,” Raab said. “Overtime has become the go-to place for crowd-sourced and high-quality high school sports video.”

Raab said youth sports has not been a moneymaker for traditional linear television. For example, SNY has viewed its high school programming as more of a marketing initiative than a moneymaking one.

SNY has hosted and televised a high school basketball tournament — the SNY Invitational — each January for the past eight years even though the event has not been profitable for the RSN.

“I can’t see a way to make money on it,” Raab said. “But it’s good for the brand and feels like the right thing to do. For one weekend, we can view that tournament as a community and marketing initiative.”

SNY’s partnership with Overtime grew out of that basketball tournament. Overtime produced clips from the two-day event. When SNY’s Raab saw the amount of traffic Overtime generated during the tournament — almost 1 million video views — he saw a youth sports opportunity that went beyond traditional TV. Overtime reaches 11 million unique users per month, Raab said.

“Today, we don’t see a path where we can fit high school sports into the traditional RSN business model,” Raab said. “How do you aggregate meaningful and comprehensive high school content? We can’t hire people to go out and shoot every game. But with Overtime and the audiences it brings, we see an opportunity to make money on it.”

John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.

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