Gen Z is getting its own edition of “The Match.” Hours before Phil Mickelson, Charles Barkley, Peyton Manning and Stephen Curry hit the course for TNT’s celebrity charity golf event next Friday, a foursome of influencers will face off at Stone Canyon Golf Club in a youth-focused undercard.
Streaming on the Turner-owned B/R app, Jesser, Kristopher London, Tristan Jass and MMG will compete in a 10-shot, closest-to-the-pin challenge for $100,000 in the “House of Highlights Showdown.” If you haven’t heard those names before, it’s probably because you’re not among their combined 10 million YouTube subscribers. (ESPN, for comparison, has 7.5 million.) Clips from the event will be distributed across Bleacher Report’s and House of Highlights’ social accounts afterwards.
HoH director of original content & strategy Sam Gilbert said the expectation is that the brand’s audience, the core of which is ages 13 to 24, “has very little knowledge in golf.” The same goes for the participants. “Seeing the creators they love competing outside of their wheelhouse is what’s going to make this most compelling,” he said.
Just as younger fans are less likely to identify with specific teams, they’re also less likely to limit themselves to certain sports, House of Highlights GM Doug Bernstein said: “They follow personalities.” If that sounds odd to you, you probably were not among the 37 million viewers who watched an influencer Rock Paper Scissors Tournament earlier this year. In line with The Match’s charity element, House of Highlights will donate to Bennett College and Spelman College as part of its exhibition.
And while the Showdown is tied to a larger Turner Sports initiative (its talent will stick around to appear on B/R’s stream of the main event), the first event created by House of Highlights probably won’t be the last.
Acquired by Bleacher Report in 2015, House of Highlights was initially all about basketball-related clips, though it has since expanded, growing beyond Instagram and focusing on other sports as well. The brand has placed an emphasis on original content in the last two years, and Gilbert said it could host as many as five similar events in 2021. Original and community content has helped HoH grow despite COVID-19 disruptions, with the brand’s flagship Instagram account recently adding its 20 millionth follower.