Getting a six-year-old away from a screen in favor of a picture book can be a long shot. But Steph Curry is used to it.
Unanimous Publishing, the book arm of Curry’s Unanimous Media, released its first draft on Tuesday: I have a super power, a children’s picture book written by Curry. And Unanimous co-founder Erick Peyton said that wouldn’t be Curry’s last prayer to young people. The company is already working on a follow-up to the book and thinking about how the property could also be translated into video.
“Me and Stephen have young children,” Peyton said in an interview. “We watch I have a super power and the vertical posting like really trying to reach those young kids… And there will be more to come.
Athletes have proven that their media brands can rise above a crowded field; just look at Unanimous, LeBron James’ SpringHill, and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, to name a few. But kids’ content can be a whole new ball game.
Late last year, Moonbug Entertainment, a global children’s entertainment company, sold at a nearly $3 billion valuation on the back of properties such as CoComelon and Blippi, kicking off an intellectual property acquisition frenzy for kids. Fox Entertainment acquired the Gumby rights in February while the Dr. Seuss intellectual property would be on the market starting this spring. Netflix, meanwhile, is development several Roald Dahl projects after acquiring the brand to help it compete with the onslaught of Disney kid favorites. And of course, every company has to fight with the rapidly growing video game market for (developing) spirit sharing.
As streamers seem increasingly money-conscious this year, they’re often expanding rather than shrinking kids’ divisions, as the category has proven to boost customer acquisition and retention. And Curry and Peyton are well aware of the competition. “You have to create such a magical, fantastical world because there’s so much to choose from,” Peyton said. “A kid can just go and play Roblox.”
Increasingly, these choices include athlete-focused media. Curry is also working on kid-focused content as part of his business with Comcast NBCUniversal, and recently announced a Snapchat show. SpringHill produced a children’s docuseries for Disney+, where Giannis Antetokounmpo executive produced a recent film based on his life story. Eli Manning is preparing an EP upcoming anime series about a quarterback with a magic arm. Derek Jeter led the way when he announced Jeter Publishing in 2013 with a mission that included creating children’s picture books. Along with writer and illustrator Tom Booth, the publisher has since published several titles.
“(Youth content) is a massive aspect of the business,” Ryan Holcomb, chief content officer at Excel Sports Management, said in an interview. “Obviously entire brands were created to attract this demo.”
Developing the youth rate is something that particularly appeals to sports parents; while they aim to showcase their lives on social media, parenthood often spills over to their brand. “A lot of talent that does things that gravitate towards younger audiences,” Holcomb said, “they do it because usually it’s because they have their own family. … Then it makes more sense whether they are doing things in this space.
And while young people today may not have fond memories of Eli’s 2007 Super Bowl or Jeter’s 2000 World Series triumph, many of their parents probably do. “The parent is looking for good programming that they can trust from the surface.… [if] Peyton Manning’s name is on it and they know the Peyton Manning brand, they know he’s not going to do anything that’s going to surprise them,” Holcomb said.
Active players like Curry and Giannis, on the other hand, do have legions of young followers. And by creating content for them, these superstars are preparing to maintain lifelong connections with these consumers.
“Truth be told, we’ve been working on the kids’ vertical for a while, and now we’ve started to build momentum,” Peyton said. “So I’m really excited to see where it goes.”