NBA star Kevin Durant is backing startup Overtime in its bid to become the ESPN for Generation Z
- Sports media startup Overtime raised a Series A funding round of $9.5 million from investors like NBA star Kevin Durant and Andreessen Horowitz.
- Overtime wants to build a digital sports network for Generation Z.
- Overtime's relationship to the next generation of NBA superstars and big sports personalities will be a key to success, since it doesn't have marquee sports rights.
Media startup Overtime is ready to launch into the next phase in its bid to become the next great digital sports network - and to do so it's grabbed $9.5 million in fresh capital from the likes of NBA superstar Kevin Durant and Andreessen Horowitz.
When Business Insider spoke to Overtime last year, CEO Dan Porter said the startup was in the midst of a transition.
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. That app served to build a fan base, a relationship with elite high-school athletes, and a brand. Porter wanted to use those three things to create the ESPN for Generation Z.
Now the Overtime team is 100% focused on building the entertainment network, and 0% focused on trying to innovate and expand the app, Porter told Business Insider in a recent interview. Overtime gets nearly real-time footage of all the top high-school players in the country, Porter said. The new financing is to staff up and invest in the next phase.
"That really becomes our angle," Porter said: Defining what a digital sports network looks like for Generation Z.
The next generation of NBA stars
One big factor in the potential success of Overtime is the goodwill the startup is trying to foster with the next generation of superstars, particularly in the NBA.
Overtime cofounder Zack Weiner gave the example of Trae Young, the Oklahoma freshman LeBron James recently said "better go pro" as soon as possible.
"We covered him in high school, he's blowing up in college," Weiner said. "He's not going to create his own highlight [on the Overtime app]. But we are going to film Trae Young going back to his high school … Rocking our gear … That will continue as [stars like Young] grow into the NBA."
"When they are pros, it's not about finding their highlights," Porter said. "We don't need to have access to those." The rights to those clips are also extremely expensive, and mostly locked up by sports media incumbents. So Overtime will have to make do without them.
It's "having a relationship to [the stars] so we can create all that secondary content," Porter said. He gave the example of the Super Bowl, which he said was as much focused on storylines like Tom Brady and Gisele as it was on the actual football.
As to where the programming will live, Porter said Overtime is trying to succeed in as many places as possible: from Snapchat to YouTube to linear TV. As with most digital media companies these days, the name of the game is diversification of revenue. You can't ride one platform to victory.
But even with diversification, building a video-focused sports brand without rights to game footage is a tough proposition. Bleacher Reporter, which Porter said has done a good job at the intersection of sports and pop culture, makes use of the rights secured by its parent company, Turner.
Because of this, Overtime's success will likely hinge on whether it can build an authentic relationship not just with fans, but with the next wave of superstars and personalities (like Trae Young).
"We are covering high-school basketball players who have more followers than anyone in the NFL does," Porter said. But will they have loyalty to and affinity for Overtime as a brand?
Kevin Durant, as well as Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan (who led the round), are betting on it.
Durant "has been critical of major sports news media in the past," Porter said. But Durant felt like Overtime was fundamentally different.
Porter, who sold a previous startup for $200 million, contends that Overtime's advantage is "how rigid and static" the incumbents in the space are. But as we've seen many times in digital media, it isn't always enough to be facing a sluggish older company: People have to connect to your brand.
Overtime has already convinced people like Durant to put money into the company, now it has to prove its relationship with stars like Young - who will be challenging Durant on the court in years to come - is strong enough to last.
Overtime previously raised $2.5 million in a seed round. Here were some of the other investors in its Series A: Greycroft, Afore Capital, Box Group, Fitz Gate Ventures, Imagination Capital, 645 Ventures and TACK Ventures; and Rich Kleiman, Geoff Yang, and Michael Spirito.