In the Summer of 2017, Brave New Media partnered with 2x NBA Champion and Finals MVP. The ask was to help launch the basketball phenom’s YouTube channel, produced in part with KD’s company, 35 Ventures and live entertainment production company Six Degrees. To deliver, BNM directed and produced a YouTube livestream with that blended PR, social and digital, with virtual reality and live audience interaction.
By mastering new broadcast technologies and harnessing the power of social media, the result was an immersive and entertaining session that made fans feel as though they were hanging out with KD himself— even if they were only in their own living rooms.
35 Ventures is the vehicle Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman founded in 2016 to house their portfolio of investments across entertainment, tech, sports, culture and more. Six Degrees is a tech-centered live entertainment company who specialize in augmented and virtual reality technologies.
Kevin Durant launched his in the spring of ’17, joining the ranks of only nine professional athletes who’ve ever opted to share their personal lives through personal vlogs. Why get so personal with fans? Because all athletes should be empowered to express themselves without intermediaries, and to be known for what they bring to the community and the culture as well as the sport. Echoing the precedent set by athletes like Lebron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Megan Rapinoe Kevin Durant decided it was time to tell his own story and to control his own narrative through branded entertainment.
With Kevin Durant’s star power, a full crew, a handful of top YouTube creators, and product partnerships with both Google and bringing the heat, a lack of content was certainly not a problem with this broadcast.
What was a challenge, was bringing such a massive event with many players, segments and business owners together in a streamlined and cohesive production plan. There was also the challenge of mastering new technology in a short amount of time. Brave New Media’s experience with live events, live broadcasts, and real-time problem-solving were tapped to ensure KD’s first foray into livestreaming a full-court pass.
To strengthen the broadcast, Brave New Media came in with a detailed show flow and a full CTA plan. A clear hierarchy of needs and excellent communication were all added to keep the event organized and on-message. With Damian Petrou directing and Stephen Cashmere producing, the team rehearsed and perfected Kevin Durant’s segment for maximum impact and on-air excellence. This was a complex broadcast with many brands to appease creatively, so the Brave New Media team needed to master the cutting-edge technology of YouTube livestreams and while ensuring every guest segment received equal clout.
With limited time, Brave New Media found a way to be expedient and efficient. Arriving a day in advance to host production meetings, scripting sessions, talent walk-throughs and tech rehearsals, the focus was on prep work and excellent production quality. The first half of shoot day was dedicated to working one-on-one with each content creator to rehearse their segments prior to going live at exactly 3pm PST. While the time schedule was tight and finely-tuned, it also left margin for a comfortable pace, with time for cast and crew prep, client debriefs, pre-broadcast huddles and dedicated time for KD to prepare his energy prior to going on-air.
The top-tier members of the YouTube creator class who were invited to KD’s livestream have over 49.5 million subscribers, bringing more eyeballs to KD’s new YouTube channel. Clear segments with each guest made the 45-minute long live broadcast into something that could be edited for targeted distribution across YouTube long after the live session ended.
Included in KD’s YouTube live were:
The result was an exponential increase in engagement rate and follower count for Kevin Durant’s new YouTube channel, with over 250,000 views and 500 unique viewer comments from a single 40-minute broadcast alone. The power of this single broadcast was able to be used and and and for the benefit of KD’s digital platform.
In the final moments of the livestream, with KD eating the last of his ten spicy wings covered in sauces upwards of two million Scoville points, Sean Evans proposed the following question:
“I know that you’re not shy about your criticisms of the media, be it ESPN’s bummy new segment, or what have you. So I wonder, what do the ESPN’s of the world, the Bleacher Reports of the world, get wrong about KD?”
“Well, first of all they don’t let me create my own content, they don’t let me tell my own story, so how can they tell my story without even talking to me? Two: that’s why I’m on YouTube. I get to tell my own story and it’s told by me, the person who actually went through it.”
And KD certainly has a story worth telling. Born outside of the nation’s capital to his beloved mother Wanda and raised on street ball, KD has gone on to become one of the most successful, accomplished, and popular players in the league. An exceptional athlete and maverick businessman and investor, KD is also known for his philanthropy. In 2013, Durant gave $1 million dollars to victims of the devastating 2013 Moore Tornado. In 2020, as a response to the deleterious effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s mental and physical health in urban communities, Durant partnered with Degree to donate $1 million to #KeepKidsMoving in cities like Detroit, Chicago, New York and in his hometown: Seat Pleasant, Maryland.
The next generation of athletes will certainly take after KD’s example: empowered athletes and empowered members of the community, culture, and this country’s boardrooms.
The Brave New Media team is proud to have helped Kevin Durant with telling part of his story, and we can’t wait to see what other major moves are in store for the future of this phenom.