Bleacher Report and the Alex Morgan-founded media and commerce startup Togethxr have partnered on a documentary about WNBA star Breanna Stewart and her professional basketball player partner, Marta Xargay, and the couple’s journey to motherhood through surrogacy.
Togethxr, whose founders also include WNBA star Sue Bird and Olympians Simone Manuel and Chloe Kim, produced the short film, but the deal brings the Turner-owned Bleacher Report on as its exclusive distribution partner.
Terms of this deal were not been disclosed but it is believed that B/R’s distribution and promotional capabilities were key to landing distribution rights.
The deal has the potential to grow into a longer term relationship, both parties say. Bleacher Report, which has continued to expand coverage of women’s sports since launching its HighlightHER brand in 2019, gets additional female-focused content through the partnership. Togethxr, which launched just five months ago, in turn gains access to Bleacher Report’s audience, which the company pegs at more than 150 million fans each month.
“One of the missions at Togethxr is to make women athletes more visible, and to tell stories that not many people are telling,” Jessica Robertson, Togethxr’s chief content officer, said in an interview. “When I think about these stories, [and] this story in particular, we want eyeballs on that, and we also want shared-value partners. Bleacher Report has incredible cultural relevance, and they also have incredible reach. There’s huge value alignment. There was a complementary relationship here.”
Bleacher Report has more than 100 million followers across its social media channels, and the platform has notched almost 6 billion engagements and 25 billion video views across social media since the start of 2020. By comparison, while Togethxr says it has a highly engaged audience, the startup has just north of 75,000 followers on Instagram to date. Beyond the numbers, Bleacher Report has a male-dominated audience made up of a vastly different demographic than Togethxr’s typical audience of Gen Z and millennial women. Bleacher’s male fans, however, are also interested in women’s sports content; 70% of HighlightHER’s audience, for example, is male.
Recent research has debunked myths that women’s sports draw only female fans, and has shown an audience with a high level of engagement and connection to leagues, teams and players that is attractive to brands and marketers.
Studies have also shown that storytelling is a particularly powerful tool for female athletes and women’s sports leagues. Fans of women’s sports are more interested in personal, off-court narratives than many of their men’s sports fan counterparts. Stewart in particular has quickly emerged as one of the faces of the WNBA after a standout career at women’s basketball powerhouse UConn, and now the film offers an inside look into the last year of her personal life. The news of the 26-year-old forward’s baby, Ruby, arriving also comes on the heels of a gold medal and MVP performance in Tokyo for Stewart, now a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion.
The film will air on Bleacher Report’s social channels—including YouTube and Facebook—as well as the media company’s app. The companies said they have been in discussions around strategic partnership possibilities since before Togethxr launched, but this project is the first formal engagement between the two. The parties will continue to explore future partnerships, from one-off opportunities to larger-scale distribution and content projects.
Bleacher Report has distributed its own internal projects before, as it did with the Michael Vick documentary it produced in 2016, but has more recently relied on outside distribution partners. Showtime acquired distribution rights to Bleacher Report’s documentary about former NBA player Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest. The company isn’t veering from its core businesses anytime soon, but Bleacher Report did say additional distribution opportunities could be in its future in the wake of the Togethxr deal.
“We’ll continue to be opportunistic,” said Nate Gaines, B/R’s VP of business development. “This is a great initial step. We would love to see future collaboration is down the line with Togethxr.”