In Q1 2023, PARQOR will be focusing on four trends. This essay focuses on the trend, "Hollywood’s future lies in the creator economy, but who is the talent?”
In August 2018, YouTube and Vine influencers Logan Paul and JJ Olatunji aka KSI faced off in a boxing match in Manchester Stadium (in Manchester, UK). 860,000 viewers paid $10 each to livestream the much-hyped boxing match on YouTube, and another 1.2MM pirated the stream for free via Twitch.
Last year, the two co-founded a sports beverage company called Prime Hydration “to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners to fill the void where great taste meets function.” In the past year that company has secured a sponsorship of English Premier League team Arsenal FC (which is currently first in the standings), and has become the first creator-led brand to air a Super Bowl ad (worth $7MM, according to YouTube creators and podcasters Colin and Samir),.
On Tuesday January 31st they announced the signing of a multiyear sponsorship deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship after the previous five-year sponsorship, Coca-Cola’s BodyArmor, ended. Prime will appear in the Endeavor Group Holdings Inc.-owned mixed-martial-arts company’s broadcasts, including pay-per-views and Fight Night events on ESPN+, and inside the fighting arena (including branding on Octagon corners and stools).
Bloomberg’s Kim Bhasin reports “Prime had more than $250 million in retail sales in 2022, with management aiming to break $1 billion this year behind an aggressive marketing push.” Paul also has said they have sold more than 100MM bottles sold in 30,000 retail stores in their first. year.
This story both is and is not an example of the trend “Hollywood’s future lies in the creator economy, but who is the talent?” It is in the sense that UFC is owned by Endeavor, a Hollywood talent agency, and in that both KSI and Logan Paul — who is now a WWE wrestler — have successfully built their brands with similar playbooks to celebrity athletes. But, it is not in the sense that this is a basic story of a sport sponsorship deal that also reflects the business savvy of their two business partners from Louisville, KY: Max Clemons and Troy Steiger.
Ultimately, though, it is a story that highlights how YouTube is a different medium for talent in ways that force a rethink of the Hollywood "flywheel."
The UFC's deal with Prime Hydration and KSI and Logan Paul proves that there is something magical about YouTube.
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KSI and Logan Paul are examples of media entrepreneurs who would make Walt Disney “proud”, as former WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar recently tweeted to me. They have leveraged their enormous popularity — Paul has 23MM subscribers on YouTube and KSI has 41MM — to turn Prime ...