House of Highlights and Omar Raja are known for what they have been able to do on Instagram.
Breaking 10 million followers on the platform earlier this year, the account has become a gathering place of sorts for both fans and players alike. One scroll through the comments section and you are likely to find an athlete or a celebrity offering up their two cents on a post.
Only four years old, as House of Highlights has grown, so to has the stardom of Raja. The soft-spoken 24-year-old wouldn’t seem like the atypical internet celebrity. Not posting images of himself on lavish vacations or posing with nice cars, his internet fame is different than most.
“We want it to be genuine and fun. That’s how House of Highlights started. At first, it was all about a genuinely good Instagram page that you’d want to share with your friends. It’s kind of the same idea with the show. We want it to be a genuine show amongst friends that we hope people like and spread with their friends.” – Omar Raja, Founder of House of Highlights
While Raja is active in the comments of House of Highlights and has seen his own following grow to over 200k followers on Instagram, he hasn’t been thrust into the spotlight outside of articles detailing his and the accounts rise to cultural relevancy.
Thursday 👀 pic.twitter.com/z5wxSvLvUX
— C.J. Toledano (@CJToledano) October 23, 2018
That all changes with the launch of The House of Highlights Show on Twitter. The monthly show will run for 75 minutes and will feature Raja’s best friend C.J. Toledano and Drew Corrigan, who currently helps Raja on House of Highlights, as the co-hosts. Athletes and celebrities will also join in on the fun, with Nick “Swaggy P” Young being the guest on the first show.
The move is not only a way to broaden House of Highlights’ reach, but add another feather to the cap of Raja.
“One thing that I kind of learned from my dad when I was younger was that he always added things to his skillset. For me, I look at it as kind of the same challenge, but I’m also super excited about it because I mean we all have a really good friendship and when you kind of look at all these different shows out there, there might not be a genuine friendship.”
The show will be taking advantage of the opportunities that Twitter presents it by offering fans the chance to engage with the hosts, participate in live polls, and leverage the community aspect that the brand has been able to create.
“We feel as if we have the opportunity to merge the first and second screen in a way that will create a great experience,” said Doug Bernstein, the general manager of House of Highlights. “For the younger audience who is almost always on their phone, we’re going to be able to really provide a level of interaction that you normally don’t see from a traditional chat.”
Teaming up with Twitter has helped with some of the heavy lifting of getting the show off the ground and making sure the production value was there.
A true partnership in the sense of the word, Twitter helped with both the idea and sales process, leaving Omar and the HoH crew to do what they do best.
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) October 24, 2018
“Working with Twitter, they definitely helped us form the initial idea behind the show by helping us navigate what does and doesn’t work on the platform,” added Bernstein. “It’s also a joint partnership from a sales perspective, so working with them has been super helpful.”
In the initial run of eight episodes, McDonald’s, Uber Eats, and Venmo will be prominently featured throughout. Raja, a self-professed McDonald’s lover (he goes to the restaurant at least 3-4 times per week), even hinted at the possibility of integrating the Golden Arches by shooting a segment outside of the restaurant.
“This isn’t a highlight show like SportsCenter where it was just really highlight, after highlight, after highlight. At its core, this is a friendship show about Omar and the guys who work on House of Highlights and how they watch sports.” – Doug Bernstein, General Manager of House of Highlights
While this may or may not be what happens, they did confirm that McDonald’s will have “two different opportunities for integration in each episode, with one being a segment shot outside the office and the other being a taste integration baked into each episode.”
Seen as some of the people who helped revolutionize how sports content is distributed, Raja and Bernstein aren’t worried about going back to a traditional sports talk model that many credit the likes of House of Highlights with fracturing.
“The reason we are doing it is because there is kind of a demand for it,” mentioned Raja. “There’s never been a show that really hits on user interaction and we believe that is the next step for shows.”
In the end, while metrics are important, the two are focusing on a success being a show that over the course of the next eight episodes will be able to build a community around it.
“When we create content, what we’re really looking to do is create a community around that, said Bernstein. “I think we’ve done that very, very successfully on Instagram. At the end of year one, a success will be having high-quality episodes that are really good, enjoyable, fun to watch and that allow for our fans to go deeper with Omar and the House of Highlights brand.”