Overtime and NFL execs explain why they’re teaming up to reach Gen Z sports fans on social media

  • Sports media company Overtime announced on November 2 a new partnership with the NFL.
  • Overtime will get special access to marquee events like the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft.
  • Insider spoke with execs at Overtime and the NFL about how they’re targeting Gen Z sports fans.

Overtime, a sports media company, claims that 83% of its audience is under the age of 35. It claims to have cracked the code on reaching the next generation of sports fans, an area into which established outlets such as ESPN are investing heavily — and others in the industry are taking notice.

On November 2, the NFL and the media company announced a partnership that will give Overtime behind-the-scenes access to key events such as the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, Combine, and Draft. It is the brand’s first content partnership with one of the four major US sports leagues.

With its talent, Overtime will create and distribute short-form NFL videos on its platforms. In addition, the media company will be granted permission to use official NFL logos and intellectual property in its content.

Overtime, which was founded in 2016, is known for distributing sports content on social media, such as highlights and clips captured by its creators, as well as funny videos and other content. In addition to men’s basketball and seven-on-seven football leagues, the company recently announced a women’s basketball offering.

Overtime’s main account has over 25 million TikTok followers, over 9 million Instagram followers, over 3 million YouTube subscribers, and nearly 3 million Snapchat subscribers.

Overtime’s creator network, according to chief content officer Marc Kohn, has contributed to the brand’s growth with Gen Z audiences.

“Honestly, I haven’t done anything,” said Kohn, who is in his mid-40s. “I just have a lot of really smart, sharp, young content creators, whether that is in front of the camera or behind the camera, figuring out what the audience wants and feeds them more and more of it.”

How Overtime is attracting Gen Z viewers

Overtime has honed its signature voice and style, which Gen Z audiences adore, by covering its own leagues, and it hopes to do the same for partners such as the NFL.

With its coverage of its basketball league, Overtime Elite, which streams on Prime Video, the company recently expanded into live and long-form storytelling. According to Kohn, the vast majority of Overtime Elite and the OT7 football league viewers are under 35 years old and watch on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Kohn stated that his team used what Gen Z fans like on TikTok and Instagram to create the broadcasts.

Their sideline reporters, for example, use a tiny handheld microphone, a trendy addition to informal interview-style videos on TikTok, to check in with players on what Overtime refers to as its “Vibe Cam.”

These creators are also younger than traditional broadcasters, with the majority being in their twenties and thirties. They pose questions similar to those found in social media comments. Sometimes that means going for the jugular and questioning athletes about a contentious call or a blunder.

“‘Did you think that you were going to be able to finish that dunk on them?’ ‘Did you think that you were going to be able to make that catch?'” Kohn elaborated with a few examples. “Compared to, ‘That was a good half, what adjustments do you have to make?'”

Why is the NFL introducing Overtime?

The NFL has been pursuing new live audiences for some time, according to Blake Stuchin, the league’s vice president of digital media business development.

Its alternate telecasts, such as the “ManningCast,” “TNF with Dude Perfect” Twitch livestreams, and “Toy Story” and Nickelodeon-themed broadcasts, have all been attempts to reach new and often younger audiences.

The league is expanding its strategy beyond live broadcasts with Overtime.

“What was exciting about working with Overtime is,” Stuchin went on to say, “creating a new type of storytelling, creating new content that would be complimentary to our live offer.”

Stuchin expressed hope that the Overtime partnership will “complement and expand” on what the league and teams are already doing on social media. He pointed out that Overtime’s voice and style differ from those of the league’s official accounts, which Kohn believes could help players showcase their personalities.

“Much as it might be nice if it all just came from the official league accounts or club accounts, we know that’s not the way people engage with media,” Stuchin went on to say, “it’s not the way they follow social media, it’s not the way that they want to be able to interact, frankly, with players, as well.”

According to Stuchin, the timing of the deal can be attributed to Overtime’s expansion of its football content and audience, as well as the NFL’s increasing partnerships with creators and media companies.

This year, the league launched a “Creator of the Week” series in which non-sports content creators create YouTube Shorts during games, and it approved others for a “Creator Access Pass” that allows them to use game footage and other NFL-owned videos. The NFL also agreed to stream its Sunday Ticket package on YouTube beginning this season.

Behind-the-scenes access to events such as the NFL Draft is an important part of the deal for Overtime. The NFL, NBA, and WNBA drafts are like graduation days for Kohn’s company, which focuses on athlete storytelling from high school to college.

“The NFL draft,” Kohn went on to say, “is, in a way, our Super Bowl.”

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