- Sports media startup Overtime has raised a $23 million Series B round of funding, bringing its total funding to $33.5 million.
- Even in the current icy climate for digital media, Overtime CEO Dan Porter said the round came together quickly because of his company’s focus on community and diversified revenue streams.
- Overtime will use the investment to develop new shows and build out its ecommerce and brand sponsorship businesses.
From layoffs to fire sales, the mood is bleak in the digital-media world, but Overtime cofounder and CEO Dan Porter said the process of raising his startup’s new $23 million Series B round was actually fairly quick.
The sports media company, which was initially built off high-school sports highlights, started preparing to raise the round just after Labor Day, and then everything “moved really fast,” Porter told Business Insider.
“We’d crossed a threshold of relevance,” Porter said. He said all the venture capitalists he took meetings with were familiar with Overtime’s content, or had seen athletes wearing its gear, which was a welcome change from a year ago. The round was led by Spark Capital and Bijan Sabet.
The media industry has recently soured on scale as a metric of success and looked more toward business models that rely on audience engagement. The passion of Overtime’s audience was a big draw for investors, cofounder and president Zach Weiner said.
“We knew from the beginning we would create a diversified revenue company,” Porter added. “The single biggest driver of that is community. Folks who were not successful [in digital media] had a lot of views and didn’t build communities … There’s a lot of ways to hack views.”
Video from day one
Overtime started in 2015 with a slick app that let people easily capture and edit footage from sports games, particularly high-school basketball, and export the highlights around the internet. You can think of it like YouTube but built for sports. But it has since set its sights on using that community and recognition by athletes in an expanding array of sports to build a sports media company, centered around premium video series, that doesn’t rely on expensive game rights.
Overtime’s “community” approach to sports is reminiscent of Barstool Sports — without the toxic elements — and in fact, Overtime’s chief content officer is Mark Kohn, who was formerly Barstool’s head of programming.
Overtime still has its app, but its bigger focus is on its shows. Overtime has launched 15 long-form series, mostly on YouTube with a handful on Snapchat. This year, Overtime will introduce more content geared at smart TV platforms like Roku, Porter said. In 2018, Overtime’s audience watched over 19 million hours of programming, nearly five times as much as the previous year, the company said.
“We have always been video-focused from day one,” Porter said. “We write zero articles.”
Porter said a successful format for Overtime involves telling “stories about athletes we cover without interviewing them.” He mentioned light game shows like “Lie Detector,” in which Overtime puts athletes through a fun lie detector test; and “Overtime Challenge,” where emerging athletes compete against a host in different types of challenges, from three-point shots to silly ones like pong using grapes and Welch’s grape soda (sponsored, of course). These types of videos let athletes show their personalities, Porter said.
Some of these formats feel similar to efforts by Turner’s Bleacher Report, which excels at engaging fans on social media with sports-meets-culture content.
Besides creating new series, Overtime will use its new investment on rising coverage areas like women’s basketball, e-sports (Overtime has its own pro Fortnite team), sneakers, and soccer. The money will also help Overtime build out its ecommerce business and live activations, as well as expand its sales team, which Porter said has already created a seven-figure brand business. Overtime has a team of 50, up from a dozen a year ago.
‘You aren’t carving out any new space’
Porter and Weiner credited some of Overtime’s early success to a focus on an area that wasn’t fairly valued in the marketplace: high-school sports.
“It’s really hard to build a media business when you’re you are trying to create content around things like the news,” Porter said. “You aren’t carving out any new space. You’re another tech website [for example] … We weren’t trying to go head-to-head with a major sports network. That’s saturated.”
Now the question is whether Overtime can find new lanes and formats that allow it to continue to grow. So far, investors have bet $33.5 million in funding that it can.
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