Cam Newton supports new overtime league for high school football players

In this handout image provided by SportsPro, Dan Porter, Overtime speaks during the SportsPro OTT Summit USA 2020 at Turner Studios on February 19, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.

John Nowack | SportsPro | Getty Images

Media company Overtime is launching another amateur sports league, this time for high school football players.

The Brooklyn, New York-based company will launch a seven-on-seven low-contact soccer league called “OT7” in June, it announced Tuesday. The move comes more than a year after overtime kicked off a high school basketball league. The soccer program will take place June 9-12 in Las Vegas.

Overtime said it plans to pay for expenses around the league using a portion of the $80 million it raised in April 2021 from investors including Jeff Bezos’ investment firm and l global artist Drake. NFL quarterback Cam Newton is also an investor in OT7. Terms of Newton’s investment were not made available.

Overtime co-founder Dan Porter told CNBC the company is “double-dipping” in amateur leagues.

“We focus on the biggest and most popular sports and find our audience in those sports where we can actually do something bigger than it was,” he said.

Overtime distributes original sports content on social media, including Snapchat, Alphabet’s YouTube and Meta’s Facebook. The company claims to have over 50 million followers on its social media. Its revenue comes from two sources: indirectly by aligning with brands by embedding them in online media content and making money from video ads, and through e-commerce with its apparel offerings.

CNBC reported last year that Overtime had raised more than $140 million since its launch in 2016. Pitchbook estimated that Overtime’s valuation had reached $280 million in March 2021. Porter declined to reveal details on the company’s valuation, except to say it’s less than $1 billion.

Porter cited Newton’s familiarity with seven-on-seven football camps, which would help OT7 operations. For more than 10 years, new investor Newton has coached seven-on-seven amateur teams that he calls “C1N”.

“It’s one thing to find someone with a great platform who can help validate what you do and bring in that audience, but he’s deeply [youth football] and cares about it passionately,” Porter said.

Newton told CNBC he was considering starting a youth soccer league, but “we felt with the muscle that Overtime has, where this company is going with social media platforms, and giving those kids the exposure. what they want and need the most, I think it made the most sense.”

Inside the OT7 football league

A year ago, the company launched its Atlanta-based Overtime Elite, or OTE, basketball league. The league allows young basketball players to bypass the traditional high school and college levels while building their brand before becoming eligible for the NBA draft.

The league is still in its first year of operation. NBA scouts who spoke to CNBC about the OTE said it was too early to speculate what impact this might have on the recruiting landscape.

Yet Overtime is building its content offerings around OTE.

In January, Meta struck a deal with OTE to create VR dunk shows for its Oculus devices. The terms of this deal have not been publicly disclosed, and Porter has not discussed details regarding OTE’s revenue. But the bet is that Overtime can eventually license the content to a bigger media company or streaming platform looking for a Gen Z audience.

“We want to create as much value as possible,” Porter said. He added that Overtime’s social media audience is “not a massive consumer of live linear [media consumption]but we think they will get there.”

Last year, Overtime built a 103,000 square foot complex in the Atlantic Station section of Atlanta. The campus is the residence of OTE participants and league staff. OTE says it provides financial education, life skills, and traditional education categories. OTE pays players a minimum compensation of $100,000 and agrees to pay an additional $100,000 for college expenses if players do not pursue the professional route.

OT7 football players, however, will not be paid to play. Overtime said the move protects college eligibility, but added that it plans to pay for attendance expenses such as hotel rooms and meals, but excludes equipment costs..

OT7 will feature up to 24 teams playing eight games each and a playoff round to determine a champion. Games will be played on 40-yard line segments of a 100-yard NFL regulated field, will last 20 minutes each without pads, and tackles will be restricted. OT7 will allow one-handed touch for game stopping.

Overtime said the league would help develop players’ passing and running skills. Quarterbacks will have six seconds to throw passes. Overtime estimates that 500-700 athletes could participate in the league.

“There’s been this untapped market in seven-on-seven for years,” Newton said. “We’ve seen kids get scholarship offers because of their seven out of seven movie.” He said OT7 would provide “kids the visual content exposure they need. Whether you get five stars or no stars, we want to give you this platform that showcases your skills.”

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates the touchdown of Ted Ginn Jr. #19 in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, NC North.

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Newton’s investments

Newton, 32, earned $133 million during his 11-year NFL career, according to Spotrac, a website that tracks sports contracts. Forbes also estimates that Newton earned $5 million in annual endorsements from companies such as Under Armour. Newton had a deal with Apple-owned headphone company Beats, but that deal expired in January 2020, the company told CNBC.

Newton said his involvement in OT7 is perhaps his most significant investment due to his “double-dipping”. Newton will help lead OT7 while continuing to coach his C1N teams who will compete in the league. It’s unclear whether the NFL quarterback is profiting from his teams through Overtime’s business model.

Newton also has stakes in plant-based food companies Daring Foods and Dream Pops. He owns “Fellaship”, a cigar bar located in Atlanta.

“If I can’t relate to it personally, I don’t,” said Newton, a three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL MVP who led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2016, of its investment strategy. “I am a person who has done well with his money and continues to do well with my money.”

Whether he will play the NFL again is up in the air. He is a free agent for the second time in two years. Asked about his future, Newton didn’t mention retirement but didn’t rule it out either.

“I’m in a position in life right now where a lot of connections have been formed,” Newton said. “I have no doubts in my mind – could I still play this game at a high level? Absolutely. Do I need this game to live at a high level? Absolutely not.”

When asked what he was looking for in a potential next team, he replied, “I just want to win. That competitive drive never goes away.”

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