- Sports media company Whistle Sports and go90, Verizon’s mobile streaming site, announced a second season of the Dunk League reality series set to run this fall, according to a press release by Whistle Sports. Season one featured eight dunkers in a high-flying competition to win $20,000 and reached 55.5 million fans on social media and the go90 app.
- New to this season is a four-city audition tour to find nine dunkers from across the U.S., as well as a social-voting element to whittle down the competitors over 26 episodes. The semifinal and final match will pit the remaining dunkers against last season’s champion Guy Dupuy with an even larger prize than before.
- Go90 serves up more than 25,000 hours of live and on-demand sports, movies and shows and will showcase profiles of each dunker and audition city — Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York.
Like many other media companies, Verizon is leveraging live and on-demand streaming to drive mobile app engagement. Its strategy comes as audiences and advertising dollars move away from traditional TV programming and toward mobile-centric streaming apps. As a wireless carrier, Verizon already has a large audience of mobile customers and by offering entertaining, original content, it hopes to be able to better monetize this use base with ads. It is also hoping to attract viewers outside its user base by investing in popular content like Veronica Mars, which recently debuted on the platform.
Verizon said last fall that it doesn't expect Go90, which launched last year, to be profitable for at least two years . There are signs that it may not be smooth sailing so far for the streaming platform with go90's general manager recently departing amid an internal restructuring.
That go90 is investing in boosting one of its more successful efforts so far shows the platform may be getting a better sense of what its audience wants. The live tour will help drive awareness and excitement for the series.
New to Dunk League’s second season is the social element, where viewers can vote for their favorite dunkers to stay in the competition. With interactive entertainment becoming more prevalent, adjusting the show’s second season to fit this desire could a smart move as the program tries to differentiate itself from similar content like NBA’s annual Slam Dunk Contest every February. According to a study by the Consumer Technology Association, 50% of Americans and 88% of millennials use a second screen while watching videos online to search related topics or follow along on social media. So, Dunk League’s social-voting move could boost engagement and encourage viewers to tune in to the following episode to see if their favorite dunker made it to the next round.