LeBron James, Nas, Part Of $2.7M Investment In Sports Streaming Venture Mars Reel

Written by Dana Sanchez

Mars Reel, a Los Angeles-based media company that streams sports content featuring amateur athletes and high school basketball, has entered a content-sharing agreement with LeBron James’ digital media company Uninterrupted to expand its brand distribution and storytelling opportunities.

Named for something “out of this world,” Mars Reel recently secured $2.7 million in financing as part of an initial $4.7 million round of funding. Investors include Uninterrupted co-founders James and Maverick Carter, hip-hop artist Nas, Translation founder and CEO Steve Stoute, former global chief of AMC, Sundance and MGM Bruce Tuchman, and Lead Investor Robert Hisaoka.

Past investors in Mars Reel include Shane Battier, James’ former Miami Heat teammate, and Jason Robins, CEO of  the fantasy-sports website DraftKings, according to NBC.

Mars Reel was founded by 26-year-old twins Brandon and Bradley Deyo in 2010 to deliver sports programming for young millennials via the channels they love. They recognized that young people consume sports differently than adults, and the content is delivered in short highlights on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and SnapChat, according to a press release.

Mars Reel
Mars Reel co-founders Brandon and Bradley Dayo Photo: Mars Reel

The Deyo twins dropped out of the University of Maryland to work on their sports streaming venture, NBC reported:

They got the idea for a sports-highlight network that would attract the attention of talent scouts while playing basketball for Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland. Raised by a single mother, they couldn’t afford basketball camp, so figured they’d share video of themselves and their friends shooting hoops on social media instead.

The brothers built a micro version of ESPN for youngsters by contracting an international network of around 600 young sports producers to write, shoot and edit video, which is then distributed on social media. Eye-catching dunks and top plays of the week are shared along with player-led diary series and links to individual player’s websites.

Mars Reel garnered 25 million unique views in its first four years from 2010-2014, while last year it counted 148 million unique views, according to data shared by the company. So far the company has just seven employees but recently hired a director of sales to begin addressing sponsorship.”

James and Carter founded Uninterrupted in 2015 as an all-digital sports programming network. As part of the partnership with Mars Reel, they’ll identify and develop content-sharing opportunities and co-develop original long-form content for platforms that target Mars Reels’ growing audience of millennial sports fans.

“This partnership with Uninterrupted allows us to extend our content offering beyond highlights and clips and into broader storytelling within the high school sports sector,” said Brandon Deyo, co-founder and CEO of Mars Reel, in a prepared statement.

“Working with a millennial-focused content creator like Mars Reel is a perfect fit for Uninterrupted as we continue to connect with athletes on all levels and bring relevant content to the growing millennial sports fan base,” said Carter, CEO of Uninterrupted. “They are creating sports content that reaches and resonates with young content consumers and brings the product to the platforms they use most. That’s important to us at Uninterrupted and is something we want to do more of as the digital media space and how people consume their sports continues to change.”

Los Angeles-based Mars Reel Media was founded on the thesis that young people consume sports differently from adults, the company said.

It started covering just basketball but is moving into football, soccer and mixed martial arts, according to NBC. “Our goal is to emerge as a sports media brand with more than one sport,” Brandon said. “Part of this (finance) raise is helping us get close to this.”

Uninterrupted produces a wide range of content for athletes, fans, and sports lovers. It says it works to empower athletes to tell the stories most important to them, and let the world see what they see. “As sports media and cultural influence continue to expand, Uninterrupted is committed to the voice of athletes and the audience that wants to go deeper,” the company said in a prepared statement.