USA Gymnastics is the latest sporting organization to embrace the subscription streaming model, signing a five-year deal with online broadcaster FloSports. The sports streaming service will air dozens of events each year, many of which previously went unaired.
For events airing on NBC’s platforms, FloSports will have international rights. Previously FloSports offered a range of NCAA meets and other amateur gymnastics competitions.
“USA Gymnastics is the number one partner you want to have in gymnastics,” FloSports SVP of global rights acquisition Phil Wendler said in a phone interview. “We know there is value in gymnastics.” Financial terms were not disclosed, but FloSports will be responsible for producing the events it exclusively airs, while both sides agreed to marketing commitments. The deal also includes the establishment of a fund to bolster USAG’s mental health programming.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming FloSports, a partner who is aligned with our goals of expanding athlete health and wellness resources and providing outlets for our athletes to tell their stories,” USAG CEO Li Li Leung said in a statement. “We know the FloSports platform will provide a unique opportunity for us to continue growing the sport of gymnastics at all levels and across all disciplines.”
USAG filed for bankruptcy in 2018 as sponsors walked away following the revelations that more than 250 women were sexually assaulted by national team doctor Larry Nassar. Olympians Simone Biles and Aly Raisman were among the hundreds who have sued the organization and the USOPC, claiming negligence. Leung, a former gymnast and NBA exec, took over the embattled USAG in 2019, telling Time, “My goals are to work in several main areas…. One is finding a fair and full resolution with the survivors. The other piece is athlete safety; we want to empower athletes. And finally, our financial stability is a big part. I believe if you put your house in order and do what’s right, the partnerships will come.”
“This partnership would not have come to be without our full confidence in Li Li Leung and her team at USAG,” Wendler said.
Founded in Austin, Texas, in 2006, FloSports was one of the earliest entrants into the over-the-top (OTT) landscape. It currently offers live events and documentaries across 25 verticals, ranging from cheerleading to grappling, with gymnastics being one of its longest-running offerings. The service costs $29.99/month or $149.99/year. Discounts will be offered to USAG members.
In 2019, FloSports raised $47 million from Discovery, WWE, Fertitta Capital and others, as groups from the UFC to the NFL began to embrace streaming partners.
“The adoption of OTT has accelerated,” Wendler said. “Whereas there was a lot of resistance to going to the OTT model three years ago, now it’s like, ‘Why wouldn’t you?’…. People have seen you can, not only make it work economically, but it can have a huge impact for the community.”
Remote production technology has helped the company offer better production value to smaller sports. FloSports will capture every athlete and every routine across disciplines, while commentators will be used for select events. The service has also been criticized for its quality though, with MLS teams severing their deals in 2019 and 2020. Executives have focused on non-Tier 1 sports, where the company’s scalability is more of an asset for those looking to boost grassroots exposure.
While this summer’s Olympics hang in the balance, the U.S.’s 2021 elite gymnastics season will kick off with USAG’s Winter Cup in February.