Numbers exceeded expectations in every area from social to broadcast, attendance to media engagement; in many cases outdistancing every professional sports property in the same time period
SlamBall, the fast-paced, gravity-defying sport that combines elements of basketball, football, hockey and acrobatics co-founded by Mike Tollin and Mason Gordon, today unveiled its comprehensive look at data for the recently completed season, and announced its first official plans for what lies ahead for the property. The news out of Las Vegas shared with the Sports Techie community blog included respectable numbers showing robust social engagement which bested virtually any other live sports property during the period, solid viewership data in its time slots on ESPN, quality attendance figures and the attention of a global media audience, all of which is detailed below. The SlamBall relaunch on ESPN started with opening night in Las Vegas on July 21 and culminated with the finals on August 17 at Cox Pavilion won by the undefeated Mob.
“We set out this relaunch season with very lofty goals, and in almost every aspect we exceeded our marks,” said Mason Gordon, SlamBall co-founder. “In addition to all the positive numbers in broadcast and the digital/social space came a wide number of parties, cities and event partners eagerly interested in what our athletes and coaches were delivering on and off the court, which has led us to re-think our event footprint even sooner than next summer. While we are encouraged, we are working through many details that will be announced soon. One thing is for sure, we have set out to be the UFC for team sports, and I know we are well on our way to getting there now.”
During the time period of the build up and relaunch of SlamBall, no other active professional sports league, whether a start up or established league, came close in engagement or growth across Twitter and Instagram, even during a MUCH shorter run and season than the others.
- Close to 100 SlamBall original posts exceeded 100,000 views across social platforms during the six week run, amongst the most for any sports property during the period.
- Other major media platforms including ESPN, Barstool Sports, Bleacher Report, Overtime, FanDuel, The Score, Jomboy Media, FOS, Ballislife, Complex and more organically shared SlamBall content over 100 times across platforms, totaling over 10M additional views.
- SlamBall’s engagement far surpassed the competition of other major sports leagues during the lead up and run of the season, with engagement rates of over 6% vs the competition average of 1.62%. The only league that came semi-close was the Premier Lacrosse League at 2.7%.
- Twitter was much of the same story with an engagement rate of .464%, more than 4x the average of .111% and beating the second league, Professional Pickleball League (.140%) by a very healthy margin
- SlamBall also saw TREMENDOUS growth vs the competition, growing 48.5% on Instagram (competition average of 18.4%) and still ahead of MLS (44.6%) during a time period in which Lionel Messi joined the league.
- This was true on Twitter as well, where SlamBall grew 46.9% vs a 16.1% competition average, and the second highest being PFL at 31.8%.
SlamBall was able to secure almost 50 hours of live programming on the ESPN networks, one of the most comprehensive partnerships for a property coming back into the marketplace after a long dormant period. SlamBall’s live late night viewership window on ESPN and ESPN2 scored with audiences 18-45 across the country, delivering with the key demo brands crave. SlamBall’s average of 105,000 was on par with other live broadcasts in the time slot.
SlamBall’s launch led to immediate international interest as well, with games being shown live through the ESPN partnership in Latin America (on DTC on Star+); in the Caribbean (via ESPN & the affiliate-authenticated ESPN App), and in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands (via ESPN & the affiliate-authenticated Watch ESPN). Additionally, SlamBall China launched its broadcast on Douyin, Kuaishou, WeChat Videos, Xiaohongshu, and Weibo, with over 25 million views in the first few days.
Additionally, SlamBall’s decision to use former athletes like Nate Robinson and Marshawn Lynch in its broadcasts alongside ESPN personality John Schriffen led to millions of additional digital views, making it one of the most talked about broadcasts not just of the summer, but of the year.
In its first few weeks SlamBall entered into a partnership with US Integrity which led to live gambling on games after just two weeks of play, thanks to its partnership with Circa Sports. The almost unheard-of quick turnaround for launch live money gaming is a testament to the intense and vocal interest of a young audience, and SlamBall’s ability to build the sport’s relaunch with gaming applications top of mind.
SlamBall’s earned media coverage impressions for the six weeks were in the multi millions, with consistent coverage not just from the largest media platforms, but from some of the most influential and engaged social media influencers and athletes as well.
SlamBall captured the attention of everyone from Snoop Dogg, to athletes (former and current) ranging from Pat McAfee, Jalen Brunson, Rex Chapman and Alex Caruso to Patrick Mahomes, Dez Bryant, Shawne Merriman and DeAndre Jordan, all of whom were passive and engaged viewers for games on multiple nights, with posts they shared across social media.
Traditional media ranging from CBS News to CNN to GQ to SI.com and USA Today all took note and shared the growing story of SlamBall as a property. SlamBall also resonated by building the stories of its amazing athletes and leadership, with features ranging from The Philadelphia Inquirer and Indianapolis Star to the New York Post.
SlamBall’s weekly highlights service also delivered in excess of 1.5 million views, with highlights being shared by platforms such as the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and the L.A. Times among many others.
The Switch delivered SlamBall summer series production services and curated the custom production setup for gameplay provided crew and tech.
In addition to Circa, SlamBall secured a growing number of brand partners as the season built momentum and interest and engagement grew. They included Old Trapper as a Founding Partner, and Launch Hydrate, The PBR, Hakkasan, Betr, SunnyD vodka seltzer, MaxAir, and Hertz as supporting partners. A number of additional partnerships are in discussions to be announced in the coming weeks.
This was the first time in the history of the sport that larger scale fan attendance factored into the SlamBall experience. Cox Pavilion was scaled for 2,500 seats for each of the multiple night sessions throughout the six week season. The league reached capacity six times during the run, and averaged over 80% for the season, exceeding expectations by over 15%. Fans were in attendance from over 20 states and countries as far away as China, Germany, Denmark, Canada and the UK.
SlamBall’s website traffic exceeded expectations with over 400,000 visitors during the period. Users again were largely in the 19-30 demo and came from as many as 30 different countries.
In May, SamBall’s return became official when a new Series A round of funding of $11 million was announced. Led by IA Sports Ventures and Eberg Capital, both of which are co-owners of the Miami Marlins, among other investments. Others include: David Blitzer and David Adelman, both of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment; Fanatics founder Michael Rubin; VC investor Gary Vaynerchuk; NBA player Blake Griffin; Sacramento Kings investor Kevin Nagle; Lloyd Danzig of Sharp Alpha; Legends Growth Enterprises; Red Games CEO Brian Lovell; attorney Jesse Sharf, Accelerate Sports; and VC investor Eric Manlunas.
The Mob finished a perfect 18-0 to win SlamBall’s return championship on Thursday night, August 24 in front of the second straight sold-out crowd of 2,500 at Las Vegas’ Cox Pavilion, downing the Lava, 49-36. Darius Clark (Blue Springs, MO) led the Mob’s offensive onslaught, earning SlamBall Playoffs Most Valuable Player honors with 45 total points in the two playoff wins.
Mob stopper and team captain Gage Smith (Elizabeth, CO) was named SlamBall League: Series 6 Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. The Wrath’s Ty McGee (Littleton, CO) earned Offensive Player of the Year honors and Mob gunner Cam Hollins (Avon, IN) was selected 5th Man of the Year, while the Mob’s Brendan Kirsch (Indianapolis, IN) was tabbed Coach of the Year.
Joining Smith and McGee on the All-SlamBall First Team were Mob gunner Darius Clark (Blue Springs, MO) and Slashers handler Tony Crosby II (Long Beach, CA). The All-SlamBall Second Team features Gryphons’ gunners KyShawn Jones (Danville, VA) and Justin Holmes (Roseville, CA), Mob handler Cameron Horton (Jacksonville, AL) and Buzzsaw stopper Tyquan Scott (Long Beach, NY).
Launched originally in 1999 by founders Mason Gordon and Mike Tollin, SlamBall is a one-of-a-kind sports and entertainment property with a rich history of success in the United States and in markets around the world. It is a compelling hybrid combination of the best elements of basketball, football and hockey, infused with the essence of a video game come to life. The new, enhanced league relaunched in the summer of 2023. Amid the current resurgence of interest in alternate sports, the hashtag #BringBackSlamBall has garnered more than 200 million views on social media, offering a powerful foundation of fandom for the sport’s revival.
Follow along at https://slamballleague.com/.
Sports Techie, will SlamBall be played on an international scale? Might we see SlamBall played in high schools and colleges? Are there plans for a women’s SlamBall component? Will SlamBall athletes earn NIL revenue? When will the SlamBall video game be published?
Stay tuned for SlamBall 2024 for these answers and much more.
Congrats to the Mob!
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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