Joe Media has expanded into boxing with a show called TKO fronted by Northern Irish star Carl Frampton. The publisher believes its approach to building sponsor-backed podcast and video products "brick by brick" could mitigate the troubles seen by other digital media titles like BuzzFeed, Verizon Media and Vice who have recently announced cuts.
The former two-weight world champion will take the lead on the new show, accompanying the Irish publisher’s growing slate of programming that includes Unfiltered (returning for a second season), Russell Kane’s Boys Don’t Cry, House of Rugby (launched October 2018) and upcoming football and gaming shows.
Male-focused media title Joe has launched the show with commercial backing from sponsor 32Red, the betting company that also backs Frampton.
The show will see Frampton and boxing journalist and presenter Chris Lloyd explore the sport through high-profile interviews, in-studio analysis and deep-dives into the lives of its most interesting athletes. It is slated to run for 40 episodes.
The launch of these shows marks the publisher’s efforts to go “toe-to-toe with the legacy publishers”. Head of content Evan Fanning (formerly of The Telegraph and The Guardian) and Gavin Johnson, managing director, opened up on the editorial and commercial implications of expanding the title into boxing and other new horizons.
Fanning said: "Boxing is a sport that we've always covered, with the written word and some video. There are fascinating characters and we try to find where there are stories to tell and personalities and human interest. Boxing is ripe with that. It is hard to find a fighter that doesn't have a good story.
"It has to be personality-led, it was about getting the right personality."
Joe's values help when building out these partnerships. On the commercial side, Johnson said: "We've always been very interested in having values and philosophy. If you stand for something, it is much easier to find a good match than if you stand for nothing and are willing to bend to whatever comes your way."
He said that Joe is building up its offering "brick-by-brick". "We never over-stretch ourselves."
Each of these show launches come to life with a brand on board to help with the costs and editorial investment, which recently saw the acquisition of a new London studio.
Johnson said: "We invest a lot into the shows but it is great to have partners. It is a big editorial investment. It works for both parties, we want to create amazing stuff for our followers and deliver the KPIs for clients."
Fanning and Johnson offered a comparison to demonstrate the reach of their content. Last weekend, the three Six Nations fixtures pulled in a combined 178,000 spectators. The House of Rugby shows, across podcasting and YouTube, hit 153,000, not a stone's throw away from the games' official attendances.
Fanning concluded: "When you show clients these stats, average watch time is around 20 minutes, the listen time is just under an hour. Compare that with a banner ad on a mobile app. The power of that is absolutely extraordinary. They are really buying into the advertising at the heart of the content and we have struck the right balance."
We’ll be going behind-the-scenes interviewing the biggest names in boxing and uncovering some fascinating unheard stories in the sport.
— JOE (@JOE_co_uk) February