Bleacher Report's House of Highlights has joined a growing number of publishers and athletes that see YouTube as the "preferred platform to reach their core audience," as House of Highlights is using the video site to "expand beyond its popular Instagram account," according to Tim Peterson of DIGIDAY. When Warriors F Kevin Durant last year was "looking to reconnect with fans after switching teams," he and his agent, Thirty Five Media co-Founder Rich Kleiman, "sidestepped the other big platforms and met with YouTube’s top brass," including CEO Susan Wojcicki, Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl and Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan. Kleiman "already knew how big an audience YouTube had, but he came away from the meeting understanding how big YouTube stars had become and seeing that other athletes had not taken advantage of the platform." YouTube offers "something of a safe harbor for publishers that want to get into the video business." House of Highlights’ YouTube channel has "only been up for a little more than a month, but the publisher is already exploring original, scripted shows as an alternative to the highlight reels it has primarily been uploading." House of Highlights GM Doug Bernstein said, “YouTube is a place that favors long-form viewing. It’s also more appointment viewing. On Facebook or other platforms, you scroll by, and it’s the surprise element" (DIGIDAY.com, 3/14).
VARIETY's Daniel Holloway noted ESPN has "ordered an untitled documentary series that will follow select members" of the NBA’s '17-18 rookie class as they "begin their professional-basketball journeys." The eight episodes will follow players from their "preparation for draft night through Summer League competition, training camp, and the regular season." The series is "produced for ESPN by Winik Media and 441 productions, and will be exclusive" to the upcoming ESPN+ streaming service. The series is the first for ESPN+ to get an "official greenlight publicly" from the net, though "several more are in the works" (VARIETY.com, 3/13).
HANGING IT UP CHUCK? In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted Charles Barkley is "contemplating retirement" from broadcasting. Barkley said, "I just turned 55. I want to retire young enough so I can enjoy life. I don’t think you can work until you are 65 or 70 and be complaining that you’re not enjoying life." He added, "My body is not great. ... I want to retire young enough so I can do my golfing and fishing every day" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/11).
DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS: Duke basketball, similar to how it drove TV viewership, was a dominant theme on Twitter for the '17-18 college hoops season, according to data from the social media platform. Duke-Michigan State on Nov. 14 was the top-tweeted game this season, followed by North Carolina-Duke from March 9 and Duke-UNC from Feb. 8, respectively. Oklahoma G Trae Young was the most-mentioned NCAA hoops player this season, followed by Duke G Grayson Allen and Missouri F Michael Porter Jr. Duke overall was the most-tweeted-about team, followed by UNC and Kansas. Among teams left out of the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, USC saw the most Twitter activity, followed by Oklahoma State and Notre Dame (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).