The Overtime team tells the stories of elite athletes seeking a career in the NBA.little byron
Overtime Elite, the league of startups positioning itself as a new path to the NBA for top high school prospects, is using technology in its Atlanta arena to connect young fans to the next generation of star basketball players.
OTE Arena, the new 103,000 square foot facility in Atlanta’s Atlantic Station neighborhood, hosts most league competition (minus the occasional road game) and not only serves as a state-of-the-art facility for basketball development- ball, but also a media mecca for capturing content for Overtime’s digital platforms which boast over 70 million followers.
“We built this as a digital soundstage with a basketball court dropped on it,” said Overtime Content Manager Marc Kohn. “It was built to be futuristic. It’s designed for the way people scroll the internet.
A wireframe cam provides a unique perspective from above the pitch.little byron
Kohn’s vision was to take game production to the next level before, during and after each OTE contest, with content then delivered in real time primarily through Overtime’s Instagram, TikTok and YouTube channels for custom audiences. “On YouTube, we have to get people to click,” Kohn said. “On Instagram and TikTok, we have to get people arrested.”
On Instagram and TikTok, Overtime produces one-minute recaps of all games, as well as unique highlights. Conversely on YouTube, Overtime’s production team takes the traditional broadcast of a given game (produced live from the arena, but not broadcast live to consumers) and whittles it down to a 30- to 50 minutes. “We produce them live – but put them in a VOD perspective because young people are more likely to watch VOD than they are necessarily a live game,” Kohn said.
Other content initiatives produced in the arena include a weekly behind-the-scenes series of player experiences on YouTube and a recent dunk contest conducted entirely in virtual reality as a result of OTE’s new partnership with Meta. Each OTE contest is also called by young social influencers rather than a traditional play-by-play and color commentator.
Each match is filmed by eight cameras, all in 4K.little byron
YouTube game recaps go up anywhere between 24 and 72 hours after the game. But almost immediately, Overtime is posting short recaps on TikTok, written recaps and box scores on its website, and plenty of highlights on Instagram and Twitter. The idea: fans can consume the content as they wish. When overtime has triple headers on Friday and Saturday, they will post 75-100 times to their accounts in a weekend.
In January, Overtime scored 2.4 billion views on its digital platforms, a record for the company and the second month in a row that views topped the 2 billion mark.
The content initiative requires OTE Arena to house several technological bells and whistles, including a state-of-the-art control room and HD lights used on the main court that are typically only used in major league arenas such as Crypto.com Arena and Barclays. Center. Each game is filmed by eight cameras (all done in 4K), including what Kohn calls a “2K” wired camera that sits above the baskets and can travel the full length of the pitch.
Overtime would not disclose its investment in the production. The property initially raised $80 million to launch the overall business.
The production team stays true to the “DNA” of Overtime, according to Kohn, by using five iPhones during games – traditionally directly under a basket for dunks or blocks. “iPhone Highlights outperforms the most premium highlights on the internet,” Kohn said. “It looks more organic, it looks like anyone could have taken it from the stands. Found footage is something that has always done better on social media than necessarily highly produced footage. We have that from the perspective highlights.
The control room inside the OTE Arena orchestrates the extensive coverage of the game’s action.little byron
What kind of team does it take to implement Kohn’s vision? About 30 employees take care of the production of a given game, a team made up of diverse backgrounds in terms of age and experience in sports production, but who all work closely together. Kohn came to overtime after spending more than four years in video programming at Bleacher Report and a year at Barstool Sports.
“In a traditional television company or indeed in many digital companies, there is a programming team, a social team and a long-running production team,” Kohn said. “Actually, I hate this model. I think it causes unnecessary divisions and does not promote collaboration. I want this mix. I may have someone who has 10 to 15 years of television experience, and I may have someone who has worked on the Internet for three years. What I want these people to do is teach themselves the things they don’t know. The person with 15 years of television experience understands long-form storytelling on a different level. What the 26-year-old who is a TikTok and Snap native brings is that he understands the digital world in a way that I don’t.
Overtime posts game recaps to YouTube anytime, 24-72 hours after a game. The content crosses multiple platforms, including Instagram.Youtube
Matt Montemayor, head of overtime production and technology, spent more than 16 years with the Atlanta Braves before joining the company last summer. He cited Overtime’s desire to push the boundaries in terms of content and technology as a deciding factor, including the recent VR broadcast. “Overtime is what’s cool and what’s next, and one of the things I love is that we never know what’s next,” he said. “It’s always a fun challenge and a fun way to find the solution from a technology perspective. … This path that we allow these elite players to take to the NBA is unlike anything ever done before, and so Overtime Elite is as much about our content and our business as it is about nurturing these young athletes and giving them a a new and better path to the NBA.
Overtime Executive Producer Matthew Fogarty came to the company after 15 years in sports production, but was excited to work with a young group of up-and-coming content creators. “When we went to the market looking for different production talent, we couldn’t really find the kind of senior executives we would like to have. So we were like, OK, let’s find a diverse group and build it and really take it to the next level, because what we’re trying to do is different from what other companies are trying to do.
Kohn thanked Overtime co-founders Dan Porter and Zack Weiner for supporting a professional basketball league for high school hopefuls in the first place, but also for letting the content team cook. “We unabashedly take things as people first. I hate bureaucracy,” Kohn said. “I just wanna do some cool shit. Great ideas can happen overtime. Every big idea is met – OK, go ahead.