8 min learn

When Medium Uncommon co-founders and companions Joe Silberzweig and Adam Richman related with me through Zoom earlier this week, all I may concentrate on have been the palm bushes exterior the window of their manufacturing workplace in Tampa, Florida. Right here in New York, it was snowing a number of inches per hour and fairly depressing, so my envy was palpable. Nonetheless, I would not have switched locations with the duo, who have been six days away from the launch of their newest high-stakes, elaborate, live-streaming manufacturing, The Shaq Bowl, which is being simulcast over Fb, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and LiveXLive (amongst quite a few different platforms) from 3-6 p.m. ET this Super Bowl Sunday. 

The occasion — a successor to final summer season’s Shaquille O’Neal and Rob Gronkowski-starring Shaq v. Gronk — boasts a number of main sponsors (, Papa John’s, Bacardi, Mercari, and so on.) and can characteristic celebs starting from Diplo and Tim Tebow to Offset and WWE Champion Drew McIntyre performing and/or competing in intramurals like dogdeball and tug-of-war. Producers Silberzweig and Richman pulled all of the threads collectively and will likely be watching with fingers crossed that the logistics go off with out a hitch.

So it appeared like a very good time to meet up with the pair about staging one more big spectacle amid the restrictions of an ongoing pandemic, in addition to the method of courting sponsors in any other case reluctant to make big ad buys this yr and hedging their bets that folk need a substitute for what Silberzweig describes as the everyday pre-game purgatory of “watching the CBS countdown present with guys in fits, speaking soccer.”

Associated: Want Millions of Views for Your Virtual Event? Just Add Shaq and Gronk.

What was it like determining learn how to one-up Shaq vs. Gronk whereas nonetheless being conscious of Covid protocols?

Richman: Yeah, it is humorous you say that, Kenny. Proper after Shaq vs. Gronk, which was filmed in Orlando, we went straight to Tampa to come back take a look at venues [for a Super Bowl event] and met with the town and the mayor, considering we have been doing an in-person occasion. Clearly that wasn’t within the playing cards. What we have realized since Shaq vs. Gronk is how nice these and digital occasions will be. Since then we did Black Entrepreneurs Day and the Sports Illustrated Awards. And now with this one we’re like, we by no means wish to do a dwell occasion once more. I say that half jokingly, however we love the house and the ability of it.

Silberzweig: In early December, that is after we actually began sitting down with Shaquille and stated, “Pay attention, We’re not going to have the ability to do that dwell and in individual. How will we maintain the alive? It took a while, however we all landed on this realization that there’s a true want and precise market alternative to create a enjoyable Tremendous Bowl countdown present proper earlier than kickoff, particularly this yr when everyone’s at residence with no Tremendous Bowl events and all of that.

What makes a digital occasion extra operationally manageable?

Richman: With the [in-person] occasion, there’s so many of those loopy variables: coping with the allowing course of, which is rarely enjoyable; the climate just isn’t in your management; coping with the Fireplace Marshall final yr at Shaq’s Fun House. All these curveballs are thrown out the window. Live performance promotions have at all times been one of many riskiest companies. You guide all of the expertise, you pay for the venue and advertising, and you are like, “I hope we promote sufficient tickets and sponsors.” With regards to broadcasting, we need not begin really laying out prices till we all know there’s proof of idea, that means there’s manufacturers that wish to take part. If no sponsors wish to come on board for the Shaq Bowl, then we all know we’re not going to spend a number of million {dollars} to supply it. If we all know that Mercari is taken with presenting and Pepsi desires to do the halftime present, now there is a sure stage of funding and it kind of removes that guessing recreation and the monetary threat.

Picture Credit score: Medium Uncommon

Talking of sponsors, Pepsi was amongst many huge corporations that opted out of an in-game advert this yr. So did they arrive to you saying, “Hey, we have to allocate advertising spend in a different way, and perhaps Shaq Bowl is it?”

Silberzweig: , I feel with Shaq Bowl particularly, we offer a extremely fascinating different to the standard Tremendous Bowl advert, which is priced at $5 million-plus for 30 seconds. What we’re constructing with Shaq and Gronk is the chance for [brands] to activate in an enormous and experiential and significant method with that social part. And clearly our partnership begins nicely under $5 million. 

Richman: These are the contacts and types that we’d cope with for a pageant or dwell occasion, and now they’re adapting to come back into the published world with us, which is fairly unimaginable.

The query, then, is the way you do all this model integration whereas nonetheless permitting audiences to take pleasure in it with out feeling barraged with advertisements and sponsorships?

Richman: Yeah, and look, that is the steadiness. It is actually troublesome, however clearly the manufacturers wish to obtain that, we wish to obtain that and, extra importantly, Shaq desires to realize that. He does not wish to put one thing on the market like a NASCAR automobile with sponsors throughout it. That is why we do not promote commercials or salvage conventional . It is saying, “Hey, what could be enjoyable?” With Jack Hyperlink’s, Joe and I brainstormed for a number of days and we’re like, “Their character proper now could be Sasquatch. What if Sasquatch comes and arm wrestles Shaq? The viewers at residence are going to like that. It is hilarious, it is enjoyable, and it achieves one thing actually cool and viral for the model with out feeling such as you’re watching a industrial for 10 minutes. 

Silberzweig: And if it isn’t one thing that Shaq goes to suppose is cool, or provides worth to the present in mine and Adam’s eyes, we cannot do it.

You guys had backgrounds in selling dwell occasions earlier than launching Shaq vs. Gronk. However when did all these big manufacturers and celebrities see Medium Uncommon as a reputable manufacturing outfit to companion with?

Richman: We have constructed out Medium Uncommon over the previous couple of years with the dwell occasions, however it is insane that we may pull off for main occasions for broadcast [since last June]. After we known as companions for Shaq vs. Gronk, we satisfied them, however it was troublesome, and it was a sale, and it was making an attempt to actually get them to leap within the pool with us. And the charges have principally doubled from what they have been again in June, as a result of companions did not know what it was then. There have been no metrics. Now we now have all this information to level to from the three [previous] occasions. That made the fourth one a neater promote.

Silberzweig: Black Entrepreneurs Day and the extent of press we received on that one was actually the proof within the pudding that Medium Uncommon is much more than only a live-event firm and is able to all types of issues in the mean time and might actually alter to determine learn how to reimagine these properties in right now’s world.

Everybody from MTV to WWE to Animal Planet has plotted Tremendous Bowl counterprogramming over time. Why are you positive Shaq Bowl will stick? 

Richman: I would not say we’re it as counter-programming, as a result of we’re actually proudly owning that house up till the sport. We all know at 6:30, you are not competing with the Tremendous Bowl. It does not matter what you’ve. It is really fairly infamous that three to 6 [on Super Bowl Sunday] is the worst television programming of the yr. We’re not saying the Pet Bowl’s not steep competitors, however you realize, with all of the celeb expertise and Shaq and the good advertising and press, all of that mixed is a recipe to get individuals’s consideration.

Ought to live-event promoters and venue house owners be worrying about their obsolescence? 

Richman: Joe and I have been really speaking about this final night time. The live-event business goes to come back roaring again. Individuals can not wait to get out of their home and be with individuals once more. We think about subsequent yr’s Shaq Bowl not solely being an unbelievable broadcast, however having 10,000 individuals within the stands.

Silberzweig: We’re actually bullish on the return of dwell [events]. I feel individuals want that connection. When it is again, they will be again stronger than ever, however for Adam and I, such as you talked about, this has been a blessing. We have been working onerous and have been compelled to get artistic, and we see broadcast as one other vertical of the enterprise, and it ought to keep that method for a very long time.