SMI #011 - Build a Platform for Pro Athlete Training Content

Empower pro athletes to vlog their training

Opportunity in a Tweet:

Training is the last untapped frontier in sports media. Pro athlete training vlogs are popular, yet under monetized on Youtube. Create a subscription platform for athletes to share training footage. Focus on non-team, hobbyist sports (running, boxing, golf, and tennis) with a long-tail of under paid athletes.

What This Is:

  • Substack meets Netflix meet Patreon for sports training content

  • A way for pro athletes to document and monetize preparation for an event (i.e., lead up to a fight, race, match)

  • A peek into the life of an athlete’s training sessions (typical 10 - 20 minute clips)

  • A place for fans to get workout inspiration (“the last workout I did before the Olympics was: 600M x 3 w/ 4 min rest followed by 6 minute recover followed by 400 x 6 w/ 90 second rest”)

  • Subscription based membership packages made available at athletes discretion (i.e., free, $5 / month, $10 /month)

  • Largely unpolished, gritty content

  • Designed for the crazy fan who would watch crappy footage of Canelo Alvarez (boxing) hitting a heavy bag or Clayton Murphy (track and field) running laps

What This Isn’t:

  • Game footage

  • Cameo for athlete shout outs

  • Peloton for live workouts

  • Highly polished content



Thesis:

There is an appetite for non-game footage of professional athletes

  • Verticalization of a very specific sports viewing segment - training

Athlete are becoming creators

  • Track and boxing athletes are already uploading training footage (usually inconsistently, to Youtube or their Instagram stories)

  • Since it’s niche segment, the advertising revenue is not life changing

  • Not all athletes can afford to have Showtime All Access follow them around but still have cool workouts and fascinating narratives in the lead up to competition

Niche sport athletes can bring 1,000 true fans, given the right platform

  • There’s an inherent flywheel that the supply (athletes) will drive the demand (subscribing consumers)

  • Cameo provided that their supply (80’s sitcom stars and borderline hall of fame football players) would drive the demand to the platform

(Disclaimer from our imaginary general counsel: I am not an investor in Cameo, but I did once pay Lance Bass to congratulate my friend for passing his CPA exam)


Share Steal My Idea


Back of the Napkin Market Sizing


To Get the Ball Rolling, Sisyphus Says

  • Focus on building the supply first, and for just one sport

    • The classic chicken or the egg…build the supply and let it drive the demand

    • Focus on one sport so the athletes can recruit other fellow athletes (it’s more likely that an athlete can recruit another from their own sport (track athlete to track athlete), rather than from a different sport (track athlete to boxer))

    • There will be nuances for the training regimens for each sport, which will require engineering work for template profiles

  • Repurpose content

    • Similar to what Airbnb did in ripping off Craigslist (allegedly) to create more listings, reposting YouTube videos just to have an initial bed of inventory is an easy first step

  • Go after athletes who are still hungry to “make it”

    • Don’t immediately try to recruit the Lebron of a sport

    • Look to recruit athletes with strong local followings and are contenders, and not yet gold medalists raking in sponsorship dough


Kinda Biased Competitive Landscape


How It Makes Money


Waves This Rides

  • Sports media rights spending bonanza

    • Amazon and ESPN paying big money for NFL TV rights ($2B for Monday night. Also the Carrie Underwood intro isn’t that good, fight me if you don’t agree)

  • Rise of the creator’s economy

    • Substack

    • Tiktok

    • Patreon


Future Expansion Areas

  • Upsell gear worn during workouts

  • Get into the recipe game and cross sell that quinoa (needed to spell check on that one on multiple sources)


Why This Might Fail

  • Cold start problems

    • If you don’t have supply then no one will subscribe

    • Athletes may be cool with using Youtube and not persuaded by the potential for subscription revenue from a smaller following

  • Secretive athletes

    • Some athletes are notorious for closed-door training sessions, thinking it gives an edge to their opponents (boxers very rarely post their sparring footage...some distance runners won’t post their training routes)

  • Creators might not create often enough

    • To avoid subscription churn, creators need to put out content regularly (this is one of the many reasons why I don’t charge for this newsletter. The other reason is my mom and my semi-estranged aunt in Tulsa, who happens to be very politically vocal on Facebook, are probably the only ones reading this right now)



Potentially Reliable Stuff I Read at 3 AM


Completely Irrelevant Post Script No Reputable Business Publication Would Allow

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“The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation”

-Henry Thoreau