After a successful career in sports journalism at Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Bleacher Report, as well as a key storytelling role at the National Basketball Players Association, Jared Zwerling launched the first dedicated media platform focused on sharing basketball players’ lives off the court.
On this Episode of The Besomebody Podcast:
6:30 It began with storytelling. “I had my first gig as a newspaper writer from my middle school at 8 years old. I wrote my first article about an ambidextrous pitcher who could pitch both 90mph, lefty and righty. I was so fascinated by that story and by athletes and how they got into their craft – the story behind the story. That’s what set it off for me. It came very naturally, just telling stories.” -JZ
24:24 The impact of the pandemic on the sports media industry. “We have often talked about the yin and yang, the bipolar nature of the effect of the pandemic on different industries. At first glance, we’re like, ‘Quarantine must have been the best thing ever for CloseUp360,’ because players are at home and they have all this free time. When you add on the layer that you’re also now competing with ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, Uninterrupted – everyone vying for that free time because there is no ‘on the court’ time – your point of difference became a little less prevalent.” -KS
26:37 The need for GREAT content. “Everyone has to be super creative and offer as much value as possible. Because we work directly with players, we just can’t create content just to create content. We have to go to a player and say, ‘This will create value for you and here’s why.’ The level of access and the level of ideas we come up with have to be greater and more compelling for a player to say, ‘You know what, I want to work directly with CloseUp to do that.’ It’s a different approach to just being a traditional media outlet in that regard.” -JZ
45:05 The startup grind. “When you work for a startup, you have to be able to sacrifice and push through the grind. It’s not going to be easy all the time. It’s not a corporate job where you have a steady paycheck and benefits. It’s a different mindset when you work for a startup. You have to be able to be ready for anything and pivot.” -JZ
48:20 Advertising as revenue. We used to always talk about how difficult the advertising as revenue business is within media, and how margins become very tight and tough. That’s always been hard. Now with companies spending less on marketing, less on advertising, with more content platforms out there, and a lot more conglomerates purchasing media platforms – it’s tough. At Besomebody, we’ve been a media company for a long time. We’ve never monetized it because our strategy has always been to use content as a growth platform for audience size, and then figure out what to do with the audience. We took a couple cracks at it and weren’t as successful as we hoped to be. And now we’re back at it again after we pivoted and built a core revenue stream. As Jared talked about, passion is the lead, but then you’ve got to pay the bills.” -KS
50:46 Kash’s One Big Thing. “We need to start thinking of new business models. We need to start thinking of new ways to generate revenue that haven’t been built before. You can’t use the old ‘tried and true’ models anymore. We have to do some things differently – whether that’s how we partner, through shared revenue, through media and licensing agreements, or through looking at venture capital in a different way. The game has changed, so we have to think about things very differently. The companies that are emerging right now and the companies that are going to succeed are going to say, ‘How do I have to play the game differently moving forward?’” -KS