The Fastest-Growing Startup In Sports Media
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Major League Baseball has the oldest fans among the major US professional sports leagues, with an average age of 57, according to a 2017 survey by Sports Business Journal. The average NBA, NHL, and NFL fans are 42, 49, and 50, respectively.
Average Fan Age By Sport (2017)
MLB: 57 years old
NFL: 50 years old
NHL: 49 years old
NBA: 42 years old
There are many reasons why this has happened. For example, the average game takes over 3 hours and 10 minutes to complete but typically contains less than 20 minutes of live-action. That means fans have to wait, on average, more than four minutes between each ball in play, and around 90% of the game is without live-action.
But as we shift toward a society that demands fast-paced and immediate action, that has put baseball in a difficult position. Even when you look at the last pre-COVID-19 season, Major League Baseball saw its fourth consecutive year of league-wide attendance decline, and overall attendance now sits 14% below its high in 2007.
MLB League-Wide Regular Season Attendance
2007: 79.6 million
2019: 68.5 million
Don’t get me wrong, Commissioner Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball know this is a problem, and they are attempting to fix it. They are working to implement pitch timers, a ban on infield shifts, bigger bases, automated strike zones, a communication system for catchers and pitchers, streaming partnerships, and a deeper relationship with gambling operators.
But I would argue reaching a younger generation through digital media is just as important, and no one is doing that better than Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien right now.
You guys know Jomboy, right? He’s a 33-year-old wedding videographer from New Jersey that has quickly built one of the fastest-growing startups in sports media today.
The story goes like this: Jimmy O’Brien, known as Jomboy, worked as an event videographer in 2017 (primarily for weddings) and created YouTube videos with friends in his spare time. But he was living in California and wanted to connect with more Yankees fans, so he started live-tweeting games and providing video recaps.
He was 28 years old and made no money from the content — it was strictly a hobby.
But Jimmy eventually reached 1,000 followers on Twitter and convinced his childhood friend Jake Storiale to launch a podcast with him called “Talkin’ Yanks.”
The podcast was growing organically, but Jimmy and Jake supercharged its ascent by creating these short videos called “Baseball Breakdowns.”
The concept was simple — MLB had recently relaxed its video-sharing policies, so Jimmy would take the most interesting or exciting thing in baseball each day and turn it into a two-minute video complete with a voiceover explanation.
He did hundreds of these on YouTube and Twitter. Some would get little to no traction and probably weren’t worth the time, but then two videos, in particular, went super viral and played a significant role in the overall growth of his content business.
The first video was in July 2019. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected from a game after arguing with the umpire, and when Jimmy noticed that the TV microphone picked up some of his profanity-laden rant, he turned it into a breakdown.
"My guys are f---ing savages in that box and you're having a piece of s--- start to this game," Boone said. "I feel bad for you, but f---ing be better. That guy is a good pitcher and but our guys are f---ing savages in that box. Our guys are savages in the f---ing box.”
Boone was suspended one game, but fans loved it. The Twitter clip has nearly 8.5 million views, more than 110,000 likes, and almost 27,000 retweets. Jimmy sold t-shirts, and Yankees players used the phrase as a rallying cry for the rest of the season.
The second clip was later that year, in November 2019. An opposing pitcher had just accused the Houston Astros of cheating by banging trash cans to tell batters what pitches were coming. So Jomboy dug up footage from the game in question, cut it up, completed a voiceover depicting what happened, and tweeted it.
The breakdown went viral again, amassing nearly 5 million views on Twitter, more than 31,000 retweets, and over 102,000 likes.
These viral clips were helpful, of course. But I think it’s probably insincere to label them as the sole reason for the success of Jomboy Media — much more went into it.
For example, a friend of Jimmy’s saw that the podcast resonated with people and offered him a $25,000 investment in early 2018. Jimmy decided that was enough to go for it, so he quit his job and started to create baseball content full time.
It’s not like that was enough for a salary, though. Jimmy was investing every dollar back into the business and sat at his desk from nine in the morning until two the following morning, recording podcasts, creating video clips, tweeting, and engaging with fans.
He wasn’t making much money, if any, but the business kept growing, and he convinced Jake to go full-time with him later that year. The two childhood friends received a follow-on investment of $25,000, and they got to work building the business.
Fast forward to today, and Jomboy Media has quietly become one of the fastest-growing startups in sports media. They received another $1 million investment from a group of MLB players and media figures last year. They now have roughly 50 employees (full-time & part-time). They just opened a new office space in New York City, and the company did between $6 million and $7 million in revenue last year.
Even better, the business has been profitable for years.
But today, we have some exciting news, as Jimmy, Jake, and Jomboy Media are announcing a significant sponsorship deal with SeatGeek. The partnership includes sponsorship of many Jomboy podcasts, like Talkin’ Baseball, The Chris Rose Rotation, and Jomboy’s infamous video breakdowns.
“SeatGeek has supported me from the very beginning, even before Jomboy Media was who we are today,” said Jimmy O'Brien a.k.a Jomboy, founder of Jomboy Media. “The company has a long track record of working with new media entities, and has a knack for understanding not only what it takes to succeed within the industry, but how to tap into the minds of today’s consumers. The [media] landscape is evolving and SeatGeek knows how to grow with the fans by using smart and forward-looking approaches to collaboration.”
This is nothing new for SeatGeek. They understand the power of digital media better than anyone and have used partnerships with personalities like Pat McAfee to build one of the most significant Gen Z customer bases in sports and entertainment today.
Gen Z Customers As % of Total Customer Base
Vivid Seats: 19%
But this is highly significant for Jomboy Media. The business is growing fast, and this deal enables them to grow even quicker. They are hiring many people. They have more than 20 digital properties today. They have quadrupled revenue year-over-year, and my guess is that they will soon expand outside of just baseball.
As for what’s next, your guess is as good as mine. But influencer-led digitally-native media properties aren’t going anywhere, and Jomboy is someone I certainly wouldn’t bet against. So if you want to hear more about his story, the underlying economics of Jomboy media, and more, check out the podcast we released today to announce the SeatGeek partnership.
Otherwise, I hope everyone has a great day. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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The Joe Pomp Show: New episode with Jimmy “Jomboy” O’Brien is live!
We talk about his journey from wedding videographer to media CEO, how the business got so big so fast, their future expansion plans, and how their new partnership with SeatGeek will enable them to expand the business further.
Listen, subscribe, share, and enjoy!