Rob Perez, our colleague at The Big Lead from January 2015 through March 2016 and a FoxSports.com contributor for the last year, will join the media company Cycle. Both Perez and the outlet confirmed the news to The Big Lead.
Perez has been a prolific personality on Twitter (@World_Wide_Wob) for several years, relentlessly chronicling the NBA and cultural phenomena, including but not limited to The Bachelor and police chases. At Cycle, he will join Cycle’s editorial team and host recorded and live web studio shows that will air on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. The plan is for Perez to have a high degree of creative freedom, and to be, as Cycle CEO Jason Stein told us, “nimble.”
Cycle, which collaborates with athletes and influencers to distribute original content, differs from traditional digital outlets in that the site is not at all interested in driving traffic to a web site. Partnering with brands and media agencies, Cycle is focused on maximizing viewership through social networks. Brands it has partnered with of late include Nike, Foot Locker and SeatGeek.
This video Cycle made in partnership with Nike Basketball, right after Devin Booker scored 70 points in a loss to the Celtics, garnered over 3 million views on Facebook:
In 2015, Cycle’s then-parent company, the marketing agency Laundry Service, was acquired by Wasserman, a sports and entertainment agency led by Casey Wasserman that represents numerous athletes and broadcasters and provides marketing services for brands, properties and more. Cycle was spun into its own company, still under the Wasserman umbrella, early last year. (Cycle rep Robert Davis tells us that Cycle and Laundry Service are operationally independent, which means that their parent is hands-off in the day-to-day business.)
Stein, the Cycle CEO, tells us by phone that he believes the traditional web site model, which relies on interstitial ads and display banners, is broken. He feels the only way outlets will survive is with subscription revenue or direct branded partnerships.
The elephant in the room is that by far the greatest distribution opportunities exist on Facebook, which is not without a degree of risk. Algorithmic shifts can arrive like a tidal wave for companies too reliant on the Facebook fire hose. Video views have been overestimated in the past. Their mass distribution does not come for free.
Stein believes it can be worth it to pay for Facebook boosting. “Part of our business strategy is paying for distribution,” he says. “Paying in a way to optimize virality. If you learn how to play in their ecosystem, there can be good business there.
“It’s completely fair to acknowledge the risk that comes with third-party distribution on platforms like Facebook. But at the same time, you have to acknowledge the risk of not following that model. BuzzFeed, Vox, all new media companies are taking that risk because there’s no way to get that same reach with a single website or app, and traditional ad buys on website are not good for business, advertisers or user experience.
“The fact is, platforms like Facebook have an incentive to maintain productive, equitable partnerships with publishers. You can only take so many vacation photos and pregnancy announcements. It’s publisher content that keeps users active and engaged on the platform.”
It should be interesting to see what ideas Rob Perez cooks up with them.