Drake Partners With LeBron James' Digital Platform Uninterrupted in Canada
The deal marks the first international expansion for the NBA star's sports media brand as its allows pro athletes to speak directly to fans.
Rap mogul Drake is backing LeBron James as Uninterrupted, the digital athlete empowerment platform run by the NBA's biggest star and business manager Maverick Carter, lands in Canada.
The deal will see Drake become a part owner and promoter for Uninterrupted Canada as he unlocks doors north of the border for James' sports media brand, launched in 2015 and now expanding internationally. The star-fronted Canadian arm, to be led behind the scenes by CEO Scott Moore and chief content officer Vinay Virmani, like its U.S. counterpart will allow Canadian athletes to speak directly to fans via content from video shorts to features.
Moore, a veteran Canadian sports broadcaster and former head of Rogers Sportsnet, told The Hollywood Reporter Uninterrupted Canada will amplify what pro athletes with celebrity status love outside of their sport, with branded content, events and merchandise. The goal is to allow celebrity athletes to remain relevant and resonate with their fans outside of competition.
"These are incredibly driven people who often have deep passions for things other than what sport they play," Moore told THR about Canadian athletes set to board the Uninterrupted platform. James' Canadian content slate includes an exclusive first-look deal with Toronto Raptors star Serge Ibaka, who is developing a fashion line with Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew.
Uninterrupted Canada will also produce a motivational series with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, while also bringing content from Uninterrupted in the U.S. north to Canada.
Drake and LeBron James have close personal and business ties, including having both executive produced the 2017 documentary The Carter Effect, about NBA dunk champ and eight-time All-Star player Vince Carter, which debuted at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival.
SpringHill Entertainment, James' production shingle started in 2008 with Carter, is developing film and TV projects through an overall deal with Warner Bros. Separately, Warner-owned Turner Sports in 2015 invested $15.8 million in Uninterrupted as it became a Bleacher Report vertical.
Drake is helping bring Uninterrupted to Canada after his home team, the Toronto Raptors, won the NBA championship. "Uninterrupted has been an incredible platform for athletes to tell their stories and connect with fans. I’m honored to partner with LeBron to bring Uninterrupted to Canada, a country that continuously supports innovation and creativity," the rap star said in a statement.
With ice hockey still the dominant sport in Canada, Moore anticipates pro National Hockey League players will also seize the unfiltered megaphone on offer from Uninterrupted Canada.
Outside of North America, Uninterrupted CEO Carter told THR that the company, as it expands internationally will focus on pro athletes with celebrity status in popular sports like cricket in India and soccer in the U.K. and Europe.
"We'll focus on sports that people care about and the empowerment of athletes around the world, because that's a universal feeling and a universal truth," Carter said. He pointed to a content partnership and development deal signed by Uninterrupted and Liverpool Football Club, which last season came in at a close second in the U.K. Premier League and won the Champions League competition in Europe.
Uninterrupted has also partnered with David Beckham's Studio 99 shingle to co-produce a documentary series about Inter Miami CF, the Major League Soccer expansion team to launch next year in which Beckham is a co-owner. Uninterrupted also has development deals with the U.S. women’s national soccer team and Reign FC star Megan Rapinoe, and Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm in the WNBA league.
The company is also working in Europe with Paris Saint-Germain FC and French national soccer team star Kylian Mbappe.
"When we started Uninterrupted, it was to give athletes a platform where we could share our stories and connect with our fans in a way we never had before. It’s exciting to see that idea now leading a whole new era of athletes around the world feeling empowered to do more and be more,” James said in his own statement.