A media and marketing veteran has teamed up with a swathe of elite Aussie sportspeople to push the button on a new platform that promises to deepen the connection between elite sportspeople and sports lovers, while helping brands to move from the sidelines to centre of consumers’ engagement with sports content.
The vision of PlayersVoice is to enrich the soul of Australia’s great obsession – sport – with its founding contributors setting the standard through creating and sharing their thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears in their own words, focusing on ‘The Human Behind the Headline’.
The platform launches with powerful contributions from a number of Aussie athletes including Erin Phillips (basketball), Israel Folau (rugby), Jeff Horn (boxing) Usman Khawaja (cricket), Mat Ryan (soccer), Sally Fitzgibbons (surfing), Luke Hodge (AFL), Elyse Perry (cricket), Nick Krygios (tennis), Cameron Smith (NRL) and Joe Ingles (basketball).
Speaking to B&T, PlayersVoice founder Kerry McCabe (pictured above) said the platform has been in the works for roughly six months.
“I spent a lot of time working overseas, and one of the biggest realisations for me was that coverage of elite sportspeople from a media sense in the US is quite balanced, whereas here in Australia we seem to have gone way too far with an overly negative focus, the clickbait phenomenon, and a real lack of opportunity for our elite sportspeople to really build their own brands and engage more deeply with their audiences,” he said.
McCabe then met with a bunch of brands currently involved in the sponsorship of sport, as well as some who weren’t, who made him aware of the challenges they had and things they’d really like to see.
“The flawed nature of digital media metrics is a big issue. Brand safety and contextual relevance is certainly an issue,” McCabe said.
“The big shift away from paid media towards owned, earned and shared [media] – really getting dissemination points or distribution channels and ROI for branded content – was something that kept coming up.
“So, part of our offering to brands is we help them bring the content they’ve created to life, and where that content’s interesting, entertaining or enriching to an audience, it is relevant, safe and directed at the right audience on our platform.”
PlayersVoice has also made some fairly big decisions around brand safety, with no traditional display advertising or promotional associations with gambling.
“The brands who are either sponsoring content or bringing their branded content on the platform have 100 per cent share of voice and contextual relevance within an audience that’s really heightened in terms of their receptivity, given the content they’re consuming,” McCabe explained.
In terms of competition, PlayersVoice is avoiding the short, snacky social end of the spectrum for athlete-generated content, which is already well-contested with the likes of Instagram.
“We’re actually competing with anyone who’s creating valuable content in that ‘my time’ in consumers’ lives,” McCabe said.
“The growth of SVOD and podcasting supports that consumers will make time for long-form content if it’s good quality, valuable and relevant to them.
“So, we’re filling the void in the sports industry experience, but from a time perspective, we’re competing with those types of channels for time.”
Behind the scenes, PlayersVoice has a board and group of specialist advisers with expertise in sport, business and digital media, including Wallabies legend George Gregan, netball great Liz Ellis and former AFL premiership-winning coach Paul Roos.
Ellis said PlayersVoice will be the home of raw sports content in Australia – “not always positive, not always warm, but always real”.
“Because it will be the trusted platform advocated by elite sportspeople, sports lovers get to see the real view of the person beyond the hype,” she said.
“It will connect fans with sportspeople like never before.”
As well as regular one-off contributions from elite sportspeople performing in Australia and around the world, the platform is also developing numerous video series in partnership with current and former elite sportspeople.
Transitions will be one of the early release series – deeply exploring the mental, emotional and physical adjustment, trials, tribulations and successes of elite sportspeople on their journeys.