Traveling to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest is an educational and career-centric experience that intertwines an enormous amount of fun throughout. For SCP in 2016 it was an experience filled with networking interactives, innovation interactives and an overall encompassing feeling of accomplishment. The conference is so well orchestrated that it seems essential for all businesses and like-minded professionals to travel here for intellectual means. It’s a team-building, bond-forging trip that’s simultaneously beneficial and positive.
Throughout our coverage one interactive SXsports event that really stood out was “Direct from the Source: Athletes Unfiltered”, starring Ronda Rousey, Odell Beckham Jr. and Maverick Carter. It centered around Carter’s new business venture with LeBron James, UNITERRUPTED, a new-media outlet for athletes to share their stories direct from the source, and partnered with Bleacher Report. The talk focused around current trends in media-athlete relations, as well as their diluted stories run by most media outlets. To clearly define the progressive difference of the outlet Carter drew the preverbal line in the sand in comparison to traditional media from the beginning.
“Because we’re in the media space people compare us to traditional media, but we’re less like traditional media and more like a network. That’s what we’re going to build – more like HBO, more like NBC,” Carter explained. “A real network where athletes can come on, and if that’s what they want to do, and break news, they’re more than willing to, and able to.”
Surprisingly, this platform is only fifteen months old and it’s already filled with diverse interviews and blogging sessions with a wide-range of athletes from countless sports. Throughout the session spearheaded by BR’s President Rory Brown, Rousey and Beckham, with Carter interjecting, dove deep into the outlet’s key principles and mindsets. They spoke to the platform’s ability to amplify their stories and have them told in an unbiased way free from media manipulation, something Ronda knows all too well.
“Well, I think most athletes deal with the frustration of being misunderstood, and constantly having themselves portrayed to the world by other people. I think UNITERRUPTED is, really, the most direct way of to express yourself,” Ronda proclaimed. “I think it’s the most positive media outlet that I have, that I’m excited to use. I really want to share things on it, because you don’t just feel like you’re immediately going to get shot down.”
UNITERRUPTED essentially strives to not have the athlete or “celebrity” feel like their words aren’t being twisted by having them produce it unadulterated straight from them, the source. The theory is that this will then make them feel comfortable, creating a deeper connection with their fans, then snowballing into more sharing, with the outcome of fans getting a peak into their idol’s lives like never before. One way the outlet protects their athletes and celebrities is by having a full document clause stating that any reuse of content from Uninterrupted has to be used in its entirety, and no pieces or segments are to be used alone. Beckham was specifically excited to give fans an opportunity to peak behind his curtains and see what some of the nuances of his life and preparation for the game is like.
“I plan on being able to take my workouts and put them on there so that people can take them and use them if they want to use drills. People say weird stuff like, ‘Can you post a video of you doing your socks for the game? How do you get your socks like that?’ It’s like, I see that,” Beckham stated. “I would love to be able to respond back, and now Uninterrupted is where I can do that. I can talk about how I can get my socks like that for the game. What do I do before the game? What music do I listen to? On top of that I can add in the work outs.”
It was clear that the audience really commiserated with the essence of the discussion. They understood, as overlooked as it is, high-profiled people’s struggles with controlling their image. The room was packed with reports, business professionals and your “average joe” sports fanatic hanging on every word of the star-studded panel. Extremely deep at times, the constructive talk broke out in laughter from quick-witted jabs at ideal times. In addition to the content’s innovation, Carter passionately pointed out the growth of the evolving outlet, adding excitement of what’s to come from this new source of breaking news.
“I think now we’re starting to have a little bit of the athlete network effects of people seeing all the athletes we have on, whether it’s Ronda or Odel or LeBon or Gronk or Draymond, and really seeing that we are distributed across multiple platforms,” Carter continued. “I think that is really spreading the message, the message is spreading on its own.”
An unforgettable, life-changing experience, this trip has been allowed our team to come together and bond like never before. SXSW is truly an ever-expanding, cutting-edge event featuring constant cross-industry innovation, and is the epicenter of new ideas. Its core motivation really is to bring people together to network their talents and have fun in the process. It’s a travel experience that’s unique from the city of Austin to the groundbreaking interactive talks themselves.