Leaning into the personalities and viral nature of basketball, House of Highlights has risen to multiple millions of followers across its various accounts.
Now, the Bleacher Report-owned property is looking to do the same in soccer.
“Within the sports themselves, you have these incredible moments of individual brilliance and incredible moments of individual highlights that just perform super well on social media,” said Doug Bernstein, general manager of Bleacher Report’s House of Highlights.
“We’ve obviously seen that with the NBA for a long time. Now that Bleacher Report and House of Highlights have Champions League rights, we’ve seen that same highlight-driven, personality-driven, star-driven content work tremendously well,” he said.
As Bernstein noted, the impetus for this alliance started with Turner Sports and Univision’s $100 million-a-year deal to telecast Champions League matches in English and Spanish in 2017. With their common popularity among younger sports fans, there are growing synergies between basketball and soccer.
Without having to wear helmets and equipment like football, baseball or hockey players, superstars like Neymar, LeBron James, and Lionel Messi are easily recognizable, global icons.
Soccer ranks as the fastest-growing sport on House of Highlights, with engagements up 22% year-over-year. Both sports feature outstanding solo performances. Their individual nature creates eye-popping, shareable highlight clips.
Those are all smart business reasons why House of Highlights is working with Neymar and the Paris Saint-German football club to create new content aimed both at U.S. audiences and millennial and Gen Z sports fans around the world.
House of Highlights will give Neymar the kind of spotlight usually reserved for his NBA counterparts stateside. The Brazilian superstar’s total salary/endorsement income of $105 million in 2019, made him the world’s third highest-paid athlete, according to Forbes, behind only Argentina’s Lionel Messi ($127 million) and Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo ($109 million).
“These athletes are just stars that transcend the sports themselves. You see that in basketball with LeBron James – and you see that in soccer with Neymar. That in particular really lends itself to a millennial and Gen Z sports audience. It is just the nature of those sports,” said Bernstein.
Starting Jan. 17, House of Highlights will start posting new PSG content starring Neymar and other stars like Angel Di Maria content on social media channels and YouTube.
The French club agreed to give the House of Highlights squad extensive behind-the-scenes access to its players and facilities.
House of Highlights’ planned content offerings will include multiple sit-down interviews with Neymar, a behind-the-scenes look at PSG on match day, and an “HoH Takes Paris” video chronicling the team’s first trip to the French capital.
Meanwhile, there will be an interactive element, with PSG fans able to win tickets to an upcoming match if they complete several challenges decided on by the audience.
The alliance between the House of Highlights brand and PSG is designed to achieve several objectives. Both brands are going global. In the soccer world, there’s no club trendier or more fashion-conscious than PSG, noted Bernstein.
The club has two of the world’s most expensive players: forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. With annual revenue of $646 million, PSG ranks No. 11 on Forbes’ 2019 list of the most valuable soccer clubs, with a valuation of $1.1 billion.
“Like Bleacher Report, they’re about more than the game itself. They’re about the lifestyle and the culture and the fashion and the music that surrounds it. PSG is just cool,” Bernstein said. “They have the Jordan (Brand) gear, the coolest players, the brand recognition. It’s a brand that goes beyond the game itself.”
During their production shoots, Neymar proclaimed himself a fan of House of Highlights, according to Bernstein. Meanwhile, NBA stars like Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat make no secret about being huge Neymar fans.
As NBA stars like James invest in soccer clubs such as Liverpool F.C., there’s more “cross-pollination” than ever before between the two sports, said Bernstein.
The crossover is reflected in House of Highlights’ own data. Two out of three soccer posts on Bleacher Report’s Instagram account have an NBA crossover component. Similar to NBA fans, 40% of soccer fans are into personalities, declaring that finding a player to root for has made them a bigger fan.