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How social media sports platform 20Four is giving athletes a bigger slice of the sponsorship pie

Since its launch in May, sports content platform 20Four has doubled in size, having signed more than 100 professional athletes boasting a combined audience of over 14 million social accounts. Founder and CEO Chris Haigh recently spoke to Mumbrella about how athletes are getting a bigger slice of sports sponsorship through influencer programs while advertisers manage brand safety concerns.

20Four founder Chris Haigh

“We look at 20Four as a content engine, we work with these athletes in a way that allows us to make a lot of content. There’s really three veins we focus that content around,” Haigh says.

“The first is the content has to be better, and by that I mean there is a lot of video content in the sports space in two main categories – one is what you see on TV and we don’t want to compete with that as it’s a saturated market and those guys are doing really well, the other video is what you primarily see on Instagram Stories and Snapchat and that content is very much reacted by an athlete.

“Athletes in general attain much higher engagement on social media when compared to the more ‘Insta-famous’-type celebrities, so 20Four gives brands access to a truly influential set of sporting heroes in the Australian and New Zealand markets,” Haigh says.

Making the content accessible and safe is part of the value the service adds for both advertisers and athletes says Haigh: “These guys have an audience because they are very good at sport, not necessarily because they are very good at making content so we as a business are geared up around helping them understand what’s interesting, what people want to see. There wouldn’t be a week go by that every athlete wouldn’t hear a couple of ideas from us.”

20Four’s stable of talent represent codes ranging from AFL, NRL, cricket, surfing, netball and UFC, with the platform having clocked up 3.5 million video views over its two months. “One of the strengths is we can offer athletes across a range of codes,” Haigh claims.

One of the key benefits 20Four touts is trying to keep sports influencer marketing simple and helping sponsors work through the intricacies of protected rights and club sponsorship deals, something flagged by Matthew Pavlich at the recent Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit.

“We’re all about making strong content, ultimately someone has to want to watch it irrespective of what the brand wants to do,” he says. “We want to make sure the content navigates the landscape safely and respects existing rights holders.

“We know it’s a very complex area, every code, every club, every player has protected sponsors and that’s just one part of it. Then there’s also protected code and club IP. What we’re trying to bring to the market is to be the experts on what is right and wrong in this space.

“One thing we are changing is how easy it can be for a brand to work with an athlete as opposed to how it’s been in the past,” he says. “There’s been no clear mechanism for brands to work with a number of athletes who might work across a range of management groups.”

Beyond Australia, the company is currently moving into New Zealand and has sights on expanding into India and the US, along with moving into new fields such as representing TV celebrities, music stars, e-sports players and horse racing personalities.

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