Gannett’s USA Today Sports Media Group has formed an expanded content-distribution partnership with Mars Reel, which produces highlights, profiles and other content covering the high-school basketball world.
USA Today High School Sports, which reaches an aggregate audience of 60 million people annually, began distributing Mars Reel’s short-form content in late 2017. Currently, this includes 60 original videos per week. The new partnership will expand the volume of Mars Reel videos USA Today High School Sports distributes and will also extend to additional content formats, featured across USA Today Sports platforms.
In addition, the two companies will co-produce new series, including “Top 5 Dunks of the Week” and “The Unknowns,” which will focus on rising stars. Both are set to launch in 2018.
Mars Reel was founded in 2010 by Brandon and Bradley Deyo (pictured above), when they were themselves high-school basketball players living in Maryland. The company says its videos are viewed by 25 million unique monthly viewers across platforms including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat.
“Our high-school sports sector has grown exponentially over the past year and with partners like Mars Reel, we will leverage differentiated highlights and create unique branded video content for our voracious high school basketball fans,” said Chris Pirrone, GM of USA Today Sports Media Group. He praised Brandon and Bradley Deyo’s “passion for high-school sports combined with their creative vision for reaching young millennials.”
Bradley Deyo, co-founder and COO of Mars Reel Media, said the partnership with USA Today Sports has helped it significantly expand its reach to attract a whole new base of high-school basketball fans. “As we continue to expand our distribution network, we are particularly excited to be working with the team at USA Today Sports to produce unique, story-driven content,” he said.
Mars Reel recently launched its first documentary series, “Mars Reel Chronicles,” which features vlog-style episodes from up-and-coming basketball stars as they share their excitement for the game, practice and workout regimes, academic school and home life demands, and goals for the future. The series is available across all of Mars Reel’s social-media platforms.
L.A.-based Mars Reel also boasts a roster of well-known investors and advisers across the sports, media, entertainment, and technology sectors. The company’s chairman is Jerry Hall, previously founder and CEO of Rev Software. Mars Reel has raised $2.7 million in funding to date from investors including LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Kevin Durant, hip-hop artist Nas, Shane Battier, Devin Johnson, Cedric Stewart and 500 Startups. Others include DraftKings CEO Jason Robins; Bruce Tuchman, former global network chief for AMC, Sundance and MGM; and lead investor Robert Hisaoka.
Mars Reel also has a partnership with LeBron James’ Uninterrupted digital-media company to team on content development and distribution.
Separately, Overtime, a Brooklyn-based media startup targeting high-school sports, this week announced $9.5 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Kevin Durant and others.