Longtime media executives David Levy and Chris Weil are launching a new marketing agency alongside Horizon Media, this one aimed at capitalizing on the shift they see already underway for sports advertising.
Horizon Sports & Experiences (HS&E) plans to focus on marketing beyond TV commercials and in-stadium signage, which Levy called “table stakes.” Instead, it will look to create opportunities around new events, IP creation and experiential marketing—both in the physical world and in the metaverse.
Levy, former president of Turner Broadcasting, and Weil, chairman of Momentum Worldwide, will serve as co-CEOs and equity partners, alongside Horizon Media.
“It’s not going to be your standard 30-second TV spots,” Levy said in an interview. “And the timing could not be better. Private equity firms are investing heavily into sports franchises, new leagues are forming and NIL rights are here. This space is growing so fast, and they’re going to need companies like ourselves.”
The group won’t be starting from scratch. It’s absorbing parts of the Horizon portfolio, including more than 30 employees and an existing client base. Horizon’s newly-launched metaverse consultancy, Chapter & Verse, will be a part of the HS&E business—as will Horizon’s lifestyle agency Scout Sports and Entertainment. Michael Neuman, who runs Scout, will become an executive vice president at HS&E.
The agency’s goal is to combine the expertise of its three backers: Levy in content creation and sales, Weil in experiential marketing, and Horizon’s CEO/founder Bill Koenigsberg in brand building. Citing an example of things HS&E might pursue, Levy mentioned The Match, the golf franchise he helped create at Turner. The Match launched in 2018 using brand new IP, with media partners, corporate sponsors and buy-in from the sport’s biggest stars. Its seventh iteration will take place next month.
Levy, who founded sports consulting and investing firm Back Nine Ventures, spent about three decades at Turner parent Time Warner, where he ran the company’s portfolio of networks, ad sales, and distribution. He also oversaw Turner Sports from 2003 until his departure in 2019. He’s currently chairman of Genius Sports (NYSE: GENI) and will stay on in that role.
Weil spent two decades as chair and CEO of Momentum until his recent departure. While he held that role the agency grew from two offices to 30 global locations, eventually managing more than $5 billion in sponsorship assets. Weil said in a statement that the industry needs an agency that can mix traditional marketing with new opportunities in Web3, a catchall term for the internet’s decentralized future, including blockchain technology.
“Given fundamental shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors that are continuing to drive the evolution of brand experience—both physical and digital—I believe that Web3 is going to be the ‘experience Web,’” Weil said. “So, we’re creating a company that will be at the forefront of monetizing Web3 in this blended physical-digital world.”
HS&E’s launch dovetails with Horizon’s recent expansion. In the past few months the company launched a new consulting firm called Green Thread, and purchased a controlling stake in digital experiences agency First Tube Media, which will work closely with HS&E.