Media and journalism have always gone hand in hand with sports for a long time now. Both domains did undergo tremendous changes over the years but still kept the close-growing relation intact. These are two of the niches that have been guaranteed a projected growth in billion dollars of revenue. Due to the massive scope of their value proposition, sports and media have characterised directly proportional changes in their relative categories.
The most recent & one of the prominent ones among such changes is the incoming of the new wave of sports media. Distancing itself from traditional sports reporting and journalism, this is the current rapidly growing trend known as athlete driven media. This is mainly facilitated by the support of numerous athlete driven media companies. With the advent of latest technology in sports & critical influence of social media, the trend is here to stay.
The beginning of athlete-driven media was motivated by growing distrust between sports athletes and reporters from traditional media. The issue with traditional media outlets was that they used to cover as ‘middle-men’ for the reporting process. This third party media publishing hurt the potentially genuine & truthful nature of sports reports which in turn affected the respective athletes. The athletes felt like there is no authenticity or control they can exercise over various reports about them. The solution was necessary & brilliant – athlete driven media. Now there is no mixing up or misinterpreting words and there is an optimum communication channel concentrating on the real stories of athletes and their thoughts. Athlete-driven media is important as there is a direct interaction between athletes & fans and sports will have a cohesive relationship with social media journalism & target demographic-oriented growth.
The key players in the athlete-driven media category are The Players’ Tribune, UNINTERRUPTED, Athlete Content and Entertainment (ACE) Media and UNSCRIPTD. Three of these four companies are helmed by current or former professional athletes. The Players’ Tribune was launched by MLB star Derek Jeter in Oct. 2014. Mocked at the time of introduction, this media company later earned respect by providing quality content including podcasts, videos, player polls & first-person stories from athletes themselves. Since the launch, nearly 500 athletes from 24 different sports have contributed their stories on the website. UNINTERRUPTED – by NBA legend LeBron James is a platform for athletes to record short video clips on any topic of their choice. Top players like Warner Brothers Entertainment and Turner Sports have raised funds for UNINTERRUPTED by roughly investing $16 million. ACE Media was created by NFL Players Association to deliver original content in sports & lifestyle genres across all digital platforms. ACE Media provides unique content from over 350 NFL players. UNSCRIPTD is a video-sharing platform where you can expect unfiltered unadulterated content from the viewpoint of real-life athletes. Andre Agassi & former executives from Buzzfeed and Nike are behind this revelation of a sports website. With the kind of success and creative space available in the market, it’s only a matter of time before more entrepreneurs of relevance get established in the domain.
According to NBA superstar Kevin Durant at a CBS Sports interview, “I feel like when you read a Players’ Tribune story, you can almost read it in the player’s voice — that it’s 100 percent them, 100 percent their words and their insights and thoughts about the game or whatever the topic is…You get total control over every single part of the article and what comes out, and I think players are gravitating towards that because it’s 100 percent your voice”. This level of authenticity & control provided by the latest face of media combined with honesty and integrity on the part of athletes will invoke genuine emotion on the part of fans.
The future also looks bright for athlete driven media and companies strategically leveraging the genuine exercise of integrated reviews from sporting athletes. A positive influence on sports entertainment is guaranteed and the impact might help drive growth towards other sectors or so-called shoulder niches. The idea of publishing one’s own story is highly appreciated. Athletes can try & be better role-models. They would be able to focus on engaging with their fans in a straight-forward way and this will increase the concept of mutual respect in sports. Gone are the days when old-fashioned media outlets like ESPN ruled the industry insights. With the ever-growing power of social media tools & the nifty craft of personal storytelling at its best, the grand vision of athlete-driven media is on the right path to employing the majority of sports media coverage.