Overtime Sports Inc., which targets younger fans on digital and social platforms, has raised $80 million in funding to pursue plans including the launch of its own high-school basketball league, the company said. The sports media and entertainment venture also hopes to tap the broader interest in nonfungible tokens and sports betting.
Amazon.com Inc. founder
the rapper Drake and Reddit Inc. co-founder
are among the investors of the Series C round, which was led by Sapphire Sport and Black Capital. Morgan Stanley Counterpoint Global, Pelion Capital, Blackstone Strategic Partners and more than 25 current and former N.B.A. stars, including Devin Booker and Pau Gasol, also contributed.
Overtime is now valued at more than $250 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company in September plans to introduce its basketball league featuring top male high-school players, called Overtime Elite. The league will also function as a high school for roughly 30 rising juniors and seniors, who will all live in one location and earn a minimum annual salary of $100,000 as they play and take classes toward a high school diploma, according to the company. They will also be able to earn money from their likenesses in marketing deals, and receive professional training in areas such as financial literacy and media training.
Joining Overtime Elite will cost students their eligibility to later get a basketball scholarship in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, though they wouldn’t be prevented from going to college. The participants will be guaranteed $100,000 each toward college tuition if they don’t pursue a career in professional basketball, the company said.
Overtime has named a commissioner and a head of basketball operations for the league, and plans to hire 80 employees, including about 40 to produce content.
“What we are trying to do is build an amazing media property that we feel hundreds of millions of young people will want to watch,” said Zack Weiner, co-founder and president of Overtime.
Founded in 2016 by Dan Porter, a former executive at the talent conglomerate Endeavor Group Holdings Inc., and Mr. Weiner, a former Endeavor employee, Overtime initially gained popularity by distributing high-school basketball highlights on social platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. The company said it has nearly 50 million followers across its social media accounts.
Over the past few years, the company has also expanded its offerings and business to include original shows, merchandising and live events.
Executives hope Overtime Elite generates new revenue through sponsorship, licensing and merchandising deals as well as media rights.
The company also plans to use its new financing to invest in areas such as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which have recently caught the attention of the sports industry, and the basketball world in particular.
NFTs use blockchain technology to authenticate unique digital assets, including art, music or even basketball highlights. Overtime’s library of highlights and other content, which it expects to boost with the planned league, could help create digital sports cards and tradable assets, Mr. Porter said.
The company said it is also investing in content tied to sports betting at a time when the gambling industry and sports media companies are coming closer together.
The Series C funds will go to expand these efforts, as well as the production of programming, including video series and franchises that can drive multiple revenue streams, executives said.
About two-thirds of Overtime’s revenue comes from advertising, with the rest coming from e-commerce, which grew during the pandemic as consumers spent more time online and making purchases on digital platforms, Mr. Porter said. Earlier this year, it hired Rich Calacci as its first chief revenue officer, a position he held at both rival sports media company Bleacher Report and
The company’s revenue doubled in 2020, according to executives, despite the pause in live sports sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It [the pandemic] reinforced that sports has a bigger lens than something that has to happen on a court or field in that moment,” Mr. Porter said. “It reinforced for us the power of having and engaging with the community, because the community does not go away.”
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