Joe Media has poached Sky Sports' Soccer AM presenter and producer Rocket Long as its head of football content ahead of the launch of two new weekly football shows that will be livestreamed across various platforms.
Rocket Long (real name James Long), who has been at Soccer AM since1998, announced his resignation from Sky Sport’s football show Soccer AM on Saturday (20 May).
— Rocket (@RocketSoccerAM) May 20, 2017
Soccer AM has been aired on Sky Sports 1 each Saturday morning of the football season since 1995, but its viewing figures have slid in recent years as football fans migrate to free, online platforms like Bleacher Report, Copa90 and Kick.
Where it would regularly attract over 300,000 viewers to Sky Sports 1 in its heyday in the early 2000s, in February this year it attracted just 148,000 viewers to the channel - a decline of more than half its viewership, according to BARB data.
Joe Media, the male-focused online media brand that launched in the UK two years ago, is betting on this shift of football fans from linear TV to online with the launch of “at least” two new weekly football shows to be aired next football season.
They will both be fronted by Long, who is currently working a 3-month notice period at Sky Sports.
Joe already has one weekly sports show, ‘Football Friday: Live’ hosted by Hugh Wizzy, David Preece, Richie Driss. The show, launched last September, was the first original production to come out of Joe’s in-house studio and marked a statement of intent from the publisher to hinge its business around video content.
The new football shows will be livestreamed across various platforms, just as ‘Football Friday: Live’ is simultaneously livestreamed across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The publisher will also be hiring a team of 10 producers to create live video programmming across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube every weekday. That division will report to Long in an effort to realise its ambitions to “reimagine [what Sky achieved with its football programmes] for the social web”, Joe Media's chief executive Will Hayward told The Drum.
"At Joe, we’re absolutely convinced that original, premium TV style content is the future of the social web, and feel we are the only outfit operating at scale in this space," he said.
"If you were to build a sports TV network for social what would it look like? That is what we are working on."
Niall McGarry, founder of Joe Media, added: “Rocket is a huge talent and we’re delighted to have him join the business. We’re racking up millions of daily original video views, across both editorial and branded, and can’t wait to have Rocket at the helm of our football focused video content to take this to the next level”.