The culture of social media is changing the landscape of how sports fans receive in-game updates and Rob Perez, also known as “@World_Wide_Wob” on Twitter, has taken his already impactful digital presence to the next level with “Buckets,” a new show produced by the media company Cycle and distributed on ESPN social.
With no expectations from the beginning, Perez likes to say that the show went from, “Pizza roll to primetime.”
It all began when Perez was on the way home from a bar and decided to try out Periscope for the first time to engage with his followers. He said 50 to 60 people interacted with him that night and that sparked an idea that this might allow for a great outlet for basketball discussion in the future.
The idea quickly became a reality as Perez saw Buckets take off through Periscope and Twitter.
“Fifty became 150, which became 500, which became 1,000 and before you know, we are turning this show Buckets into a late night basketball talk show where I sit there and talk hoops with people asking questions and comments,” said Perez.
In a digital sphere, to see a show grow so organically is unique and Perez gives a lot of credit to the fans.
“A lot of the segments we came up with on Buckets started off as a brainstorming type of conversation with the comment section…So maybe that speaks to the success of the show to this point, is that the core audience has always felt that they have been invested in it, not because they have been watching since day one, but they feel like they contribute to what it is we are producing,” said Perez.
With Buckets delivering lots of fan engagement and a transformative way of talking about all things hoops, Perez was being viewed from afar via Twitter by ESPN host Cassidy Hubbarth. Hubbarth says the two linked up how many friendships in 2018 start: social media.
“How we linked up was very 2018. I became a fan of his on Twitter and started following him and appreciating his lens into the NBA. We developed a relationship over Twitter, and then he asked me to come on season one of Buckets,” said Hubbarth.
Once Hubbarth saw what Cycle and Perez were doing with Buckets, she knew it was special.
“I was blown away by the production value of the show and the live interaction with fans and also with the content of the show,” said Hubbarth.
She went on to say that she and Perez began to have a closer friendship after her appearance on Buckets, and he began to talk to her about season two of the show and some of the changes Cycle and Perez wanted to make, including adding a co-host.
Sometimes logistics don’t add up and since Hubbarth was with ESPN, there didn’t seem to be a path, but luckily for us fans, soon after the first discussions between Hubbarth and Perez, Cycle and ESPN decided to strike a deal.
Perez and Hubbarth per se were not expecting Cycle and ESPN to link up, but according to a Cycle representative, the timing was right.
“At its core, this collaboration is about uniting Cycle’s unique creative POV with ESPN’s scale and authority in sports programming,” said Mike Mikho, Chief Marketing Officer for Cycle.
With both companies and co-hosts all in, executives at Cycle and ESPN are pursuing what the future of Buckets will look like, including the possibility of heading out to live events.
“During 2018, we’re looking forward to expanding Buckets beyond the confines of the studio, inclusive of live and special events coverage. Beyond that, we will, of course, be pursuing sponsorship opportunities, as well as merchandise and other potential brand extensions,” said Mikho.
2018 will not just be a change in the way Buckets looks, but it will also pursue marketing opportunities.
“The youthful, diverse demographic represented by NBA fans is coveted by advertisers, and Buckets offers brands direct access to this passionate, highly engaged audience. On top of that, Rob and Cassidy are prominent voices on their own social media channels, which represent a great opportunity for brand extensions,” said Mikho.
With that in mind, what does that allow for Perez and Hubbarth to pursue in season two of Buckets that many cannot do in traditional hoops reporting?
“Cassidy is a great example because she is still on the sidelines currently with ESPN reporting those stories. What our show has enabled Cassidy to do, is for example in the last show we took a clip of Cassidy interviewing Paul George and aired it and were able to speak on it and deliver more of a take instead of reporting the news…That isn’t to say you can only report news on T.V. and you can only do the opposite on digital, but this particular situation with Cassidy on board, we have the ability to do both and that is why people keep coming back to us. It’s the perfect combination of weird, analysis and actual opinion. We don’t drown you in just one category,” said Perez.
Not only is it the ability to have a show with a little bit more depth than others, but it allows for a studio design that is unique. If you have seen the show, you definitely know it is a one of a kind studio and Perez touched on that.
“It was designed to be something very similar to True Detective when they are trying to figure out who the yellow king is…ultimately if you take a really close look at it, we do have plans to engage with the actual wall as a part of segments moving forward…It is telling a story of how the NBA started with not only how did super teams come about, but we have moments of NBA history up there that we think are a part of it,” said Perez.
The entire show speaks volumes to the personalities, and this is how they described it.
“If I’m the mouthpiece of NBA Twitter, Cassidy is the translator,” said Perez.
Cassidy chimed in saying, “Rob is the creative mastermind behind the show because it is his lens, he has this lens into NBA Twitter, where I am still on the traditional side of media, but this show allows me to break out and get a little more into my passionate side of being an NBA fan.”
In a personality-driven business, Perez and Hubbarth are thriving on their show Buckets with Cycle and ESPN.
While you should check out the show no matter what, if there was one line that sums up Buckets with Perez and Hubbarth, it’s the “NBA Twitter timeline experience in real life,” said Hubbarth.