When live sports paused, most media companies found themselves scrambling for content and trying to prevent a decline. Playmaker, however, has found ways to continue their growth at an impressive rate.
The Florida-based digital media company showcases nostalgic, rare statistical, and behind-the-scenes content with relatable non-pro sports and gaming videos to engage with their audience on social media as well as their own website. Their offering has also included several episodic video series, as well as long-form content.
“Our audience has always craved nostalgia, behind-the-scenes access and interesting stories and facts about their favorite Playmakers,” Playmaker President Brandon Harris, said. “Thankfully, because our content strategy has never relied on new footage from live sports or breaking news, we’ve been able to drill down and focus on going deeper into our niche as well as engaging more with the influencers in our niche. We continue to increase our original content production, our views and our engagement in a time where many other publishers are hurting for content.”
Across the brand’s Instagram channels, where they have a combined audience of more than 10 million followers, Playmaker has received more than 2.2 billion impressions in the past 12 months. Playmaker added 10 million views in the month of June, a 20% increase from May. Harris says that the most important number to him is the more than 35,000 influencers who follow their properties, according to IGBlade.
Playmaker also shifted focus during the pandemic to leverage their merchandise due in part to programmatic ad rates declining. This has resulted in the brand’s merchandise sales doubling month-over-month in 2020, from near zero to becoming their number one revenue source.
Authentic and unique brand partnerships have also played a role in generating new revenue for the company, whether it be e-commerce or other direct to consumer industries thriving in an unusual time.
For example, Playmaker has worked with several of the top record labels to integrate their artists’ songs into content and help “make songs go viral,” with a recent campaign even exceeding 25 million views.
Another example is their May 2020 engagement with FashionNova Men, where they were able to get over 12 million impressions for the brand across their 3 main Instagram channels @Playmaker, @PlaymakerHoops and @Sports. They received more than 1 million likes on that content.
“During an unprecedented time in our country, we have taken the opportunity to pivot and leverage our audience to grow new initiatives under the Playmaker Network,” said Brett Weisbrot, Playmaker’s vice president of sales & partnerships. “We are excited to add additional value to current and prospective client relationships through a new and improved variety of engagement offerings on our platforms.”
Harris added additional context to the brand’s growth and revenue generation over the last four months.
“When sports started being cancelled and advertisers started to panic, we anticipated- at the very least- a pause in branded content spend and a reduction of programmatic rates, which happened very quickly,” Harris said. “We were able to keep growing by focusing more on revenue that we could drive on our end in merchandise and our celebrity-led giveaways. Merchandise sales continue to increase at incredible rates since February and our new giveaways look like they could be a seven figure line of revenue as well as an audience growth engine for us.”
The giveaways that Harris mentioned have also incorporated sports celebrities such as the likes of Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson, who led May’s giveaway.
Playmaker has been able to build strong two-way relationships and partnerships with current and former athletes to level up the content they’re creating for brands, extend their audience growth services and to help brands sell products.
Playmaker calls these athlete partners, like Boozer, “Certified Playmakers.”
James Caricato, Playmaker’s VP of Content, says that they’ve curated “an extended team of athletes with large audiences, who we activate for content campaigns as well as giveaways and other initiatives.” He adds that they’ve vetted and tested these creators and work only with those who have proven track records of creating quality content and driving strong results for partners.
The deeper relationships lead to quicker turnaround times on campaigns as well as highly engaging content that is created with engagement at the forefront.
“Playmaker has been able to help me monetize media creatively,” Carlos Boozer said of his involvement with the brand. “Usually, brand deals can hurt engagement but in my case, Playmaker has been able to bring deals over that add value in other places as well. Their campaigns improve my engagement and help me continue to grow my audience so it’s a win-win for me on both ends.”
In the coming months, Playmaker plans to use the lessons learned during the pause of live sports to continue their exponential growth during the restart of league play and live action sports.
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