Overtime, the sports media company that started a basketball league touting six-figure salaries and an alternative path to the NBA, plans to expand into boxing as it looks to capitalize on what it sees as a new generation of underserved fans.
“The first thing that kind of drove us into boxing was that there was a clear demand from the audience,” said Brandon Rhodes, the general manager of Overtime’s new boxing platform, OTX. “Every time we posted boxing content, it did extremely well and it was clear that boxing was emerging as a very popular sport among Gen Z.”
Founded in 2016, Overtime rose to prominence by producing basketball highlights and interviews geared toward a generation of people who have known iPhones and the internet their entire lives. The company is widely credited with growing the popularity of NBA stars such as Zion Williamson, and it has more than 8.3 million followers between its Instagram and Twitter accounts. The company, whose basketball league, Overtime Elite, opened its inaugural season in 2021, launched a seven-on-seven football league last year.
In Overtime Boxing, Rhodes sees another opportunity to apply the company’s trademark formula — in this case, highlighting potential world champion boxers and providing a highly curated glimpse into their personal lives.
OTX will produce a four-event series broadcast on DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”) in August. The bouts will take place in Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, the home of its basketball league and site of some of the Professional Fighters League’s mixed martial arts events.
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Rhodes said the organization has not signed any fighters but plans to add 30 to 40 competitors by early summer. Those athletes will ink one-fight deals and each compete in main cards across its four events in the first year.
“We’re taking an approach that we’re going to be additive to the sport,” Rhodes said. “So essentially, we want to get out there, put our best foot forward and make sure that 2023 events go seamlessly, and provide boxers with a ton of value. Our approach is always to learn from what we do and kind of go from there, so you can definitely anticipate more, bigger and better in 2024, but we’re not trying to plan too far ahead.”
Rhodes said Overtime’s research showed boxing to be the fourth most popular sport for its audience, behind football, basketball and soccer. Despite reports about the boxing’s demise or waning relevance, Rhodes believes fans from Generation Z have gravitated back to the sport, spurred by factors including its unpredictability, the increasing popularity of fitness boxing and the recent uptick in celebrity boxing events involving YouTube stars such as Jake Paul or KSI.
“I think part of the job for Overtime Boxing is to take what may be a fan with casual interest and convert them into a more hardcore fan going forward,” Rhodes said.
That generational interest — and Overtime’s record appealing to that demographic — attracted DAZN, the London-based streaming service that made boxing a key focus in its international expansion.
Joe Markowski, the CEO of DAZN North America, and other sports industry executives are confronting Gen Z’s declining interest in organized sports and shifting forms of sports fandom. He views the Overtime partnership as a route to better reach those audiences.
“[Gen Z] have been served by countless entertainment formats ranging from traditional sports and music, YouTube videos, to Roblox to Minecraft. They’ve had so many more ways to spend their time and to consume media,” he said. “There is a risk that we lose that generation, or their interest in traditional sport is diluted because they have been distracted by many different things in their formative years. I think we as a company and we as an industry have a responsibility to embrace partnerships and innovations that reach those young people in a way that they’re more used to receiving media.”