Sports startup Overtime has raised $9.5 million from investors including VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, NBA star Kevin Durant and former NBA commissioner David Stern, solidifying its bid to create a youth-oriented sports media brand.
The teen audience is the core target for the Brooklyn-based venture, which sees opportunity to engage viewers who are increasingly disenchanted with coverage on traditional networks like ESPN. Disney’s longtime cable powerhouse, which is fighting to retain its dominance as TV models evolve, is about to launch its long-awaited streaming service ESPN Plus, a key part of its effort to shore up support from a younger audience.
Dan Porter, who was WME’s head of digital, launched Overtime with Zack Weiner. They claim 20 million minutes of overall watch time a month. The company delivers edited segments — many without voiceovers — highlighting high school games, mostly football and basketball. Those clips occasionally find their way onto ESPN’s SportsCenter or other linear highlight shows, which triggers a spike in online viewing. More often, they get organic traction among young viewers aiming to latch on to sports superstars before they go pro.
Down the road, plans call for a 24/7 streaming service that could be offered direct to consumers or bundled with other channels as the TV ecosystem continues to be rearranged. Along with video, Overtime is building digital and social community.
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One prominent example of an athlete whose following long predates his professional career is LeBron James, who skipped college basketball and joined the NBA after a closely watched high school career. James himself is now among the investors in a nascent digital brand with many similarities to Overtime: Mars Reel. Beyond James, backers include Bruce Tuchman, a former exec at AMC Global and Sundance Global.
Variety was the first to report the latest round of fundraising by Overtime.
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