By Evan DeSimone
Longtime “Saturday Night Live” chief Lorne Michaels is taking another stab at streaming with The Kicker, a streaming video community devoted to sports and comedy from Above Average, the digital video division of his production company Broadway Video.
The Kicker will bring together comedy stars from the Broadway Video family including Kenan Thompson, Andy Samberg, JB Smoove, Ricky Williams and “Weird Al” Yankovic and professional athletes such as Jamaal Charles, Odell Beckham Jr. and Eric Decker to create comedy video content aimed and casual and die hard sports fans.
The new video hub is the brainchild of “SNL” co-head writer Brian Tucker, who has also written for “The Chris Rock Show” and “Chappelle’s Show.” Tucker, who will serve as editor-in-chief of the new digital destination, will bring his decade of experience writing comedy for the professional athletes who frequently guest on “SNL” to The Kicker.
The team behind The Kicker hopes that the site will appeal to professional athletes looking to expand their personal brand into the world of entertainment media, and to brands looking to reach the lucrative demographics who actively seek out sports and comedy content.
Branded content will play a significant role in The Kicker’s monetization strategy. The site has already inked a strategic partnership with Lenovo and Vox Media on the video series called “Fantasy Online College,” featuring Smoove as the dean of a fantasy football college and six top NFL players as professors. It is currently available on Vox Media’s sports destination, SB Nation. A second series, “#MyDreamTeam,” features celebrities and athletes discussing their dream scenarios for their favorite teams. Guests have included musician Wyclef Jean, blogger Perez Hilton and actors Judd Nelson, Samberg and Smoove.
The Kicker is the latest project to launch under the umbrella of Above Average, which was established to produce digital and branded video content featuring a host of rising comics and established “SNL” stars. It recently launched Más Mejor, a comedy platform aimed at Latino millennials, and it has also been heavily involved in producing content for NBC Universal’s new streaming comedy channel SeeSo.