Edition 15 of SportsBiz Spotlight is here! We sat down and spoke to UMM‘s Strategy Director, Christian Hurley and Head of Content, Adam Boultwood all about the new sports entertainment publisher that’s taking the internet by storm!
What does UMM do?
AB – UMM is a sports entertainment publisher celebrating the relatable side of sports stars. Our YouTube channel is our hub, but we also exist across Instagram, Tik Tok and Snap Discover.
We blend the worlds of YouTube and sport to create fun, feel good online video entertainment. From Chunkz, Harry Pinero and Jack Grealish. To adidas football, Manchester United and Sky Sports, we work with some of the biggest personalities, brands and broadcasters in the sports entertainment industry.
When was it founded?
CH – We officially launched in December 2020 with a series called Park The Bus. We took Jose Mourinho’s infamous tactics to the next level by challenging some of the UK’s biggest content creators (Niko Omilana, Chunkz, Stephen Tries, WillNE, Callux, Calfreezy, ImAllexx, TBJLZ, Manny, W2S, AnEsonGib, Akinfenwa, Harry Pinero) to reverse park a London Bus in-front of a goal whilst their opponent took aim.
Since then we’ve worked with the likes of Jack Grealish, Mason Mount, Thierry Henry, Rio Ferdinand, Alex Scott, Alan Shearer Gary Lineker, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Peter Crouch, Shola Shoretire, Adebayo Akefenwa, Billy Gilmour, Leah Williamson, Eddie Hearn, Jamie Carragher and Fabrizio Romano.
The launch content helped us reach 100,000 subscribers within two months. Since then we’ve amassed over 250,000 social followers, well over 40 million views across all platforms, with over 350 pieces of media coverage to date.
That’s the elevator pitch!
What’s the main purpose of the organisation?
AB – We’re trying to showcase the relatable side of athletes. Humanising sports stars can be really empowering for everyone involved. Fans, athletes and brands.
Whether it’s the FA, Ben Foster or a channel like UMM, content that celebrates the things fans and athletes have in common feels like a breath of fresh and some much needed light relief.
Our aim is simply to create fun, feel good, uncynical entertainment.
If failure wasn’t a possibility, what would be your biggest ambition?
CH – Our ambition is to build a profitable entertainment business that brands, media owners, and other organisations not only want – but need to work with.
If failure wasn’t a possibility, the ambition would remain the same.
We’d just be producing more content, more often to get where we want to go. Instead we’ve got to be patient, strategic and take calculated risks. But that’s part of the fun. Especially when it pays off.
Our launch series (Park The Bus), is a great example of the thrill of success in the face of failure. It’s popularity is so much more satisfying because we knew what a risk it was.
It was a big and fairly complicated production. We also decided to release it in mid-December. The run-up to Christmas is normally the worst time to drop content. But we felt that with everyone spending more time at home, the show stood a great chance of capturing the imagination.
We didn’t do a tonne of marketing to hype it. Just a simple launch trailer on YouTube and across our socials. We released it very much in the spirit of the YouTube community, as we wanted UMM to feel like it was created by the people on the screen. The fact it felt like it came out of nowhere helped create an organic sense of excitement.
There are a few examples of sports entertainment brands that have gone big with their launch campaign, only to fall flat. So we know how difficult it is. That mix of having a unique show, released in the right way, with a little bit of luck helped garner those incredible results (2 million organic series views, 195,000 hours watched and 100,000 subscribers in the first 2 months).
Failure was definitely an option, but believing that there was an appetite for our proposition gave us the confidence to take that calculated risk.
What’s your USP?
AB – In terms of our immediate competitors or peers, it’s the relatable nature of our content that makes us different. We believe this attracts a different audience, or at least speaks to them in a unique way.
There are some publishers focused on the convergence of football, fashion and music. Others focus on the fans or social issues.
But our aim is simply to create fun, feel good and relatable entertainment. Attainable aspiration was a term we’d throw around a lot when creating the brand. When you celebrate the things we have in common, everyone wins.
We’ve been able to bring that relatability factor to life through our close relationships with content creators and athletes. The trust factor has been so important. If you’re trying to get someone to do something a little different, they’ve got to feel you have their best interests in mind.
That level of trust has enabled us to deliver some serious value to brands when it comes to creator and athlete driven campaigns. We’re able to put together creative that we know will engage the talent and audience in equal measure. That all comes down to relationships.
Other than relatability, we’re one of only a handful of sports publishers that are creating cut through video content on YouTube. That’s testament to our team’s production and platform expertise. That’s what allows our fun and relatable content to really cut through on social.
How many people work at UMM and what capacity? I.e. job roles etc.
CH – We’re trying to be lean and mean (or mean and lean?) to help us grow the brand sustainably. There are four of us behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis. Two editors (who produce, shoot and help with the creative), a head of content (who sets the platform strategy, develops the creative, co-ordinates the output and runs the channels), and the strategy director (who takes care of campaign creative, marketing, PR and commercial).
There’s then a talented group of freelancers we’ve worked with at various points in the project. And of course the on screen talent who bring it all to life.
If you look at the output and results, what we’ve achieved with such a small team is astounding. This comes down to the talent of the team, and taking care of one another.
When you’re in a start-up you have to be willing to do multiple roles, and while everyone has clearly defined responsibilities, we’re all doing a bit of everything to make things happen.
Working under the umbrella of After Party Studios (YouTuber founded production company specialising in online entertainment) has been pivotal to our success. Their counsel, guidance and reputation in the online space is a big piece of the puzzle.
Who are your usual clients?
AB – In a nutshell, brands, broadcasters, and agencies.
We’ve been lucky enough to work with adidas football, Paddy Power, Vanarama, One Football, Sky Sports, DAZN, BBC, Manchester United, Arsenal, Southampton, and there’s a few more in the pipe-line.
Essentially anyone looking to reach that new generation of sports fans through branded entertainment.
Who would be your dream client?
CH – From a commercial perspective, we want clients who we can provide value for over a sustained period of time. From a creative perspective, we want clients who trust us, challenge us, and want to feel part of the process.
Our work with car leasing company Vanarama is a great example of an ideal client. We produced a piece of premium branded entertainment to bring their new positioning to life, and educate our audience on the benefits of car leasing. We simultaneously lended our platform expertise to help the brand refine their own YouTube strategy. And we produced a novel Instagram live show as an extension of the campaign to help with their CRM expansion activities. As you can see, we’ve been able to provide a lot of value across their business by utilising both our channel and expertise.
Their team trusted us when it came to creating the content, but their willingness to immerse themselves in branded entertainment fostered a brilliant collaborative process. They knew what they wanted, provided some great ideas along the way, and gave us the space to deliver some pretty smart results.
How can people connect with UMM? What’s your website and socials?
AB – YouTube is the hub for our content. Type in UMM and you’ll find us (UMMofficial). You’ll find links to all our social channels there. But if you’re interested in knowing more, please don’t hesitate to drop an email into firstname.lastname@example.org