Live sports – long the backbone of linear – are expanding to streaming.
But like more sports-focused streaming services run out onto the field, they have to stand out from the competition.
Take ClashTV, an online and mobile live streaming platform that in 2021 has become home to high-action sports like streetball (a type of basketball played outdoors) and mixed martial arts. Like other beginner services, ClashTV works with the minor leagues and even broadcasts some high school basketball.
Sports is a lucrative niche because the level of online engagement is equal to that of the player community, CEO Jonathan Anastas tells me. Anastas became CEO of ClashTV in March after executive marketing roles at ONE Esports, Activision Blizzard and Atari.
Anastas declined to share exactly how many monthly active users ClashTV has, but says it reaches millions of people a month through its website, mobile app and social media.
But ad monetization is slow. ClashTV is still trying to build its viewership, and advertisers are concerned about the brand safety of combat sports under the MMA umbrella. (One word: blood.)
I sat down with Anastas last week to learn more about how ClashTV is trying to monetize its platform.
AdExchanger: Who exactly is ClashTV for?
JONATHAN ANASTAS: Most of our viewers are between the ages of 18 and 30 and are engaged in action games and tournaments that are clippable and easily shareable or repostable.
Our content mainly includes minor league and high school sports, especially where we can help support communities of color. For example, earlier this year we signed a brand sponsorship deal with Amazon Music, where we gave Amazon access to data that could help it identify streetball fans and athletes in exchange for investing in public park space within underserved communities of color.
How does ClashTV monetize?
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We monetize through advertising, brand sponsorships and microtransactions on the platform.
We are testing pay-per-view for the most popular content of the season, and we also plan to test monthly paid subscriptions. It wouldn’t appeal to our target audience, but since some of our content highlights high school sports, we think parents might want to sign up for a paid subscription.
ClashTV focuses more on sports teams and less on individual creators. We can charge $25 or $30 for ad spots on live streetball streams, but content generated by a single athlete or influencer would sell for much less.
What is your monetization advertising strategy?
We sell advertising space before and during playback. We also do title sponsorships with brands, which typically involve co-planning and producing the stream with custom brand integrations, including product placement.
But fans are reluctant to spend on live MMA due to concerns about brand safety and appropriateness, despite high levels of engagement around the sport.
How to convince brands to invest in ClashTV?
We still don’t have a large scale, but we represent advertisers with a very specific audience that also overlaps with fans of major sports leagues like the NBA.
We also introduce brands to audiences that are heavily involved in sports, especially community sports. The average watch time on our platform is 17 minutes and the streetball tournaments we stream generate a lot of activity in terms of likes, comments and shares.
Do you sell inventory programmatically?
We work with programmatic platforms like The Trade Desk and Google Ad Manager to fill pre- and mid-run ad space that we couldn’t sell directly. Programmatic applies to lower CPMs, but is a good way to make sure we’re filling available ad space.
This interview has been slightly edited and condensed.
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