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Overtime wants to turn high school jocks into social media stars

Low-cost content that’s built for social sharing = $9.5 million in new funding from Andreeseen Horowitz and Kevin Durant.

A young black man in a basketball uniform bounces a basketball while surrounded by his fellow high school students.
Anthony Nelson, a high school senior from South Kent, Connecticut, is one of the athletes featured by Overtime.
Overtime/Bryant Alexander
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

If you like basketball, or sports, or even hey-look-at-this videos, there is a good chance you learned about Mac McClung this month.

And if did, you probably learned about McClung, a 6’2” high school senior from Gate City, Virginia, because of this between-the-legs breakaway dunk, followed by a Jordan shrug on this way back up the court. The thing that really sells it is the brief pan to the pandemonium in the crowd.

Do you love McClung? Hate him? Doesn’t matter — you saw him. Less than a day after the clip went up, it had generated at least four million views across multiple platforms, including a push from ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Which is exactly what Dan Porter and Zack Weiner were hoping for. They run Overtime, a startup dedicated to making stars out of high school jocks like McClung. They’ve been paying McClung’s classmates to film his moves for months.

Overtime is a project spun out of William Morris Endeavor, the giant talent agency Porter worked at after selling OMGPop to Zynga on the strength of a single hit app (remember Draw Somthing? Remember Zynga?).

While there are lots of digital media companies focused on high school sports, Overtime has a different angle: It doesn’t care about scores, stats and recruiting narratives. It’s focused instead on a couple dozen athletes it thinks have the charisma to become internet stars.

Overtime tracks its stars with the help of their classmates and other people who live near them, paying stringers a few dollars per game to record them via a home-grown video app. It also captures them through its own talk shows and other programming, and distributes all of it around the web.

Unlike other companies that make money from young people who appear on the internet, Overtime doesn’t pay its stars a penny and doesn’t plan to, since any high school athlete who plans to play in college has to retain their amateur status. If that gives you a queasy feeling, it’s worth noting that mixing commerce with high school athletics, without paying the athletes themselves, has been going on for decades.

And if the idea of an internet media company with minimal content costs, supported by a pre-built distribution system, sounds like a VC-ready pitch to you, you’re right. Overtime has raised $9.5 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Other investors include Kevin Durant, who knows something about the star potential of young athletes, and Durant’s manager Rich Kleiman.

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