My Favorites by Joe Favorito
Going With the “Flo”; Media Company Thrives in the Niches…
We live in a world where content is key, but finding unique content with an audience and effectively telling that story to both the casual and the diehard can be a challenge. Enter FloSports. Based in Austin, Texas, the company uses live programming, original content, and owned and operated events to unite fragmented communities by connecting them to the biggest and best in their world. FloSports owns exclusive broadcast rights to in-demand events, and broadcasts more than 25,000 hours of live sporting events each year. Current verticals under the FloSports header are Grappling, Bodybuilding, Softball, Elite Fitness, Wrestling, Gymnastics, and Running, including MileSplit.com. While maybe not the biggest and most attractive, the audiences are growing, the stories unique and the business is thriving, recently making Inc.’s list of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S.
We caught up with Martin Floreani, CEO of FloSports to talk about their growing model, fan engagement and how the company has cut through the clutter to deliver quality and engaging product to millions.
Flo started with wrestling, how have you decided which other sports to engage with?
We actually began covering wrestling and track & field, which are our FloWrestling and FloTrack sites. Then we expanded into gymnastics with Gymnastike (gym-nas-teek), which soon will be rebranded as FloGymnastics. And now we’re live with eight dedicated sports verticals, including FloSoftball, FloGrappling, FloMuscle, FloElite and MileSplit, our high school track and cross country site. Each site we’ve launched with the same goal: to grow the sport, the athletes, and the fans.
How valuable has the partnership with wrestling been to grow your company?
I wrestled in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, so wrestling is a sport I’m extremely passionate about. With our live streaming video of top wrestling tournaments, original documentaries, studio shows, breaking news coverage, rankings, technique videos and more, we’re elevating wrestling to new heights and shining a light on the athletes and teams who are laying it on the line to achieve greatness. People in other sports have taken notice, which has spurred our growth into new sports, most recently FloGrappling, which covers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Content is king. How do you determine which content is best?
Live events are our bread-and-butter. We live stream more than 200 events each year across all of our verticals, and that number continues to grow. These events range from wrestling tournaments and track meets to elite fitness competitions, softball games, bodybuilding competitions and more.
Beyond live programming, the unique storytelling we feature in our original documentaries is what distinguishes us. Many of the top athletes in the sports we cover have compelling stories of overcoming adversity, beating the odds to realize their dreams and mounting incredible come backs – the types of universal themes that resonate with all sports fans. Before FloSports, many of these stories went untold. We’re really proud to highlight these.
How many of your viewers are using mobile to view events vs. other devices?
Mobile accounts for an increasing percentage of our traffic and live stream audience. Same with tablet traffic. We’re taking steps to make all of our sites responsive so that the user experience is optimized across all devices by end of 2015. So far, FloGrappling, FloMuscle and MileSplit are 100% optimized, and we’re excited to roll out new websites across our other verticals this fall and winter as part of our Flo 2.0 efforts.
How do you envision growing your news service vs. live streaming of events?
We don’t see them as mutually exclusive. Ultimately, our premium content subscription, FloPRO, is what drives a large part of our business. So it’s important for us to scale our premium content, such as live streaming video, across more events and more sports, and we’ve done so successfully up to this point.
Is there interest in finding ways to engage in major sports properties as well?
We think our unique approach to covering sports is transferable to so-called mainstream sports as well. But the notion that the sports we cover are “niche” isn’t altogether accurate.
Participation numbers in the sports we cover dwarf a lot of the major sports. For instance, one may assume that “football” is king at the high school level, when in fact the sport of running outnumbers that of football with respect to participants (1.6M H.S. runners vs 1M H.S. football players).
Overall, FloSports is not about one sport specifically or 8 sports for that matter. We are about covering the sport through the lens of the athlete and letting our audience know what it feels like to be in that sport at every moment. From training, to elite workouts, to being at competitions when they are happening live, we want our audience to feel the sweat and experience what it is like to be in a sport from every angle and from every moment.
Where would you like to realistically see Flo in say, 2018?
We’re not setting any limits. Right now, our focus is on executing the sports that we currently cover and ensuring our new sports get ramped up as quickly as possible. We’re going to stay true to our mission to grow the athletes, the sports and the fans, and that’s been a great recipe for success for us so far.