With a new round of funding Mars Reel is ready to take its content game to the next level. The digital media sports company, which focuses on highlighting high school basketball with short, “snackable” clips, has secured $4.7 million from investors including Otter Media, hip-hop artist Drake, and philanthropist Dwayne Wade.
Mars Reel CEO Brandon Deyo says the funding will fuel the company’s shift as it places more focus on monetization.
“We have evolved well beyond ‘highlights of the most exciting young high school (basketball) athletes’ to more than a dozen new content formats/programming – all 100% original and premium quality and we are now in more sports as well,” said Deyo. “Now it’s time for us to focus on monetization. This funding will fuel that shift!”
In addition to the funding news, Mars Reel announced that Otter Media will also be serving as an advisor and strategic partner for the company in several areas of growth. Otter Media, which has more than 2 million paying SVOD subscribers and over 93 million unique monthly consumers, has extensive experience in digital video landscape. The company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries include Ellation, with offerings under the Crunchyroll and VRV brands, Fullscreen and Rooster Teeth, with ownership stakes in Gunpowder & Sky and Hello Sunshine.
The company will use its experience to support Mars Reel in areas of growth that co-founders Brandon and Bradley Deyo believe are of the highest priority, given where Mars Reel is today, according to Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media. Those areas include, but are not limited to strategy, content, and brand and media amplification.
“Otter Media’s investment in and collaboration with Mars Reel represents an opportunity to for us to have exposure to a direct-to-consumer brand in sports, a category where passion and engagement of audiences are readily evident and dovetail well with Otter Media’s fan-centric mission,” Goncalves explained to VideoInk.
The two companies have not yet been decided if content from Mars Reel will be made available on via Otter Media’s SVOD platforms. However, Otter Media and Mars Reel will continue to work together to explore content distribution synergies across all channels within Otter Media and its affiliates, according to Goncalves.
Previously announced Mars Reel investors include LeBron James, Uninterrupted Co-Founder and CEO and Springhill Entertainment CEO Maverick Carter, Uninterrupted President and COO Devin Johnson, Kevin Durant, hip-hop artist Nas, Translation founder and CEO Steve Stoute, former global network chief for AMC, Sundance and MGM Bruce Tuchman, Mars Reel Chairman Jerry Hall and Lead Investor Robert Hisaoka.
Founded in 2010, Mars Reel has evolved from producing and distributing original short-form content based on high school basketball highlights to producing longer-form programs such as “Mars Reel Chronicles,” a video diary series highlighting the daily lives of up-and-coming basketball stars, and “Life on Mars,” a documentary series profiling athletes who overcome impossible odds to accomplish their dreams. The company distributes its content via social media platforms including , , , and , as well as via traditional content distribution partners such as .