3 min read

Digital Dunk Development

I used to sit down and watch Seinfeld every Thursday night at 9 on NBC. It was just an accepted part of life. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but there were only a few channels, and viewing was controlled by broadcast networks telling you what to watch, when to watch, and where to watch it.

The letters DVR and OTT had yet to be combined to mean anything, and the only YouTube that existed was your tube. Didn’t tune in on the right night at the right time? No soup for you.

Today programming doesn’t just live on TVs anymore though — viewing is time-agnostic, platform-agnostic and idea-agnostic. A great show can live on go90, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram — many different platforms.

Since our beginning, Whistle Sports’ content has lived across the most popular and accessible platforms for our audiences, and while launched primarily as a YouTube network, our growth has been fueled by content that engages across social highways and emerging video-serving portals.

A big part of our continued development is to balance our authentic voice with real-time one-off moments as well as serialized sports content that speaks to our core 13–34-year-old audience.

I’m excited to reveal that Whistle Sports and Verizon go90 are teaming up for a second season of Dunk League to further fuel our growth as a full-fledged media brand and align with a powerhouse like Verizon.

We originally envisioned this idea as a singular event when we ran Season 1, but now two years after pitching the concept at our first NewFront presentation, it’s morphed into a multi-city tour with personality-driven, behind-the-scenes features on our dunkers.

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Proving we can produce serialized events that resonate and drive audience engagement is a major win for us because it checks boxes for distributors and brands. After garnering 55 million impressions across all social platforms, we checked the box with Year One for Verizon go90 and it was an easy, mutual decision to renew the series.

It didn’t take long for us to evolve from contest to content. Dunk League was born out of the strength of the basketball vertical where we are deep with the dunk community.

Our goal is to be translators, partners, helpers and developers. We strive to make sense of this ever-changing digital media landscape now and in the future.

Jeff Urban, President and Co-Founder of Whistle Sports

Because of its ubiquity, varied genres, and global stature, basketball is uniquely positioned right now — and in the foreseeable future — for this brave new world of digital media consumption.

Season 2’s multi-city, roadshow approach introduces social voting and brings the online event to fans’ backyards so that they can feel and touch the content as well as be a part of it — a crucial evolution of our original idea.

Now, with the help of big personalities and cool backstories, dunking is elevating the audience experience. It’s our hope that localized dunking communities bring not only different attitudes and flairs, but also different opportunities to add to the story via the emotional connection of fans’ self-expression that is reflected in local dunkers’ regional creativity.

The next layer of the onion we’ll peel? Perhaps rivalries. (Hopefully with no tears involved).

One of the major objectives for Whistle Sports in all of this is to make the wild, wild west of digital/social first content and influencer marketing content a little bit easier to understand for brands, teams, and leagues.

Our goal is to be translators, partners, helpers and developers. We play the role of a consultant at times, creative at time, producer at times, and sometimes, even therapist. We strive, and will continue to strive, to make sense of this ever-changing digital media landscape for all our partners now and in the future.

Jeff Urban is President and Co-Founder of Whistle Sports, a company that creates, curates and delivers compelling sports content for fans and brands across multiple social, digital and TV platforms.

You can watch 8 of the best dunkers in the world descend on Miami for The Dunk League on Verizon go90 or by downloading the go90 app for free on iPhone or Android.

If you don’t know already, Hashtag Sports is a slam dunk. Click here to hear the stories of other media and tech founders.