Season Two of Go90's Streaming Hit MVP Plays in the Big Leagues
"There were some other great people on there, even if the product wasn’t a fit for me—I think you’ll see we all had a lot of fun. All I can say about that is—'Just watched an episode of MVP you loved? SWAGO!'"
But by far the show's most memorable moment came during season one, from Just Food for Dogs, a dog chow company that boasts its high-quality ingredients.
"I had said, 'Rob, why don't you encourage one of the other guys to try it.' Not trying to put that on him," Axelrod says. "And he was like, 'I'll try it.' He's like, 'Why have somebody else try it? I'll do it.' And I was like, 'Fantastic.' That is, as we used to call it at MSN back in the day, internet gold."
For his part, Gronkowski has no regrets. But is he going back for seconds?
"That is one I’m definitely forgetting for a long time," Gronkowski says. "This company Just Food for Dogs claimed they had food good enough for people, it’s just that they made it for dogs. My partners asked me if I’d encourage one of the other MVPs to try it, but hey, it’s my show—if it’s good enough for them and for dogs, it’s good enough for me—so I just went with it! And I’ll tell you what—it was pretty good!"
Not every product pitched on MVP finds an endorser, but they all walk away with a little free promotion, and that can't hurt. But deals are the point of the show, and deals do get signed. Even cologne-wipe Swago was able to make a deal, but (spoiler alert) it wasn't with one of the athletes. This time, the host got in the game.
"Arianny, who's a very attractive young girl with 3 million followers, guys are following her en masse and they think of her as super hot," Axelrod says. "If she's into potentially what guys smell like, then really what a great fit."
The athletes on MVP aren't told ahead of time what products will be pitched. They don't want to know. They'd rather be wowed on screen so the camera gets their genuine reactions. That means this reality show is truly real—nothing has been planned ahead of time. If fans are looking for the results of those deals out in the real world, the producers point out that business takes time. A lot of the season one deals are still in the works. Sometimes the athlete is helping the brand in an advisory role, and that isn't something the public would see. Sometimes equities and investments take a long while to iron out. A few deals have fully closed, but the public won't see their campaigns until the season two launch is past.
"One thing we missed from season one, that we are trying to make a point of as season two is airing, is to get the deals closed so that they are ready to go right after the show is airing," Patricof says. "Some of these other shows, you never see the fruits of the deal, ever. We're trying to get a couple of those things lined up to actually roll out during the season as opposed to a year later still trying to close deals. Which is very complicated, as you can imagine."
That could lead the show down a new avenue in the future. The producers have considered following one of Gronkowski's deals past the initial matchmaking all the way through—showing how the deal is finalized, how Gronkowski works with a startup to create a campaign that's right for all parties, and then the campaign launch itself. It could be the entire season of a new spin-off series. If viewers are interested in how partnerships are made, Axelrod muses, they'll also be interested in how a campaign gets put together—or a partnership unfolds.
As they prepared for season two, Patricof and Axelrod were more hands-on in choosing appropriate companies and working with them ahead of time to ensure they were ready to close an endorsement deal. They left the negotiating up to managers in season one, but this time took an active role so the show could point to successful campaigns it helped create.
The audience's reaction has been positive, partly because viewers get to see their favorite players in a different way.
"Fans love it," Gronkowski says. "They usually only get to see the ads, and me doing a quick interview here and there. Now they’re getting to see me on the business side, and having fun while doing it. I think anytime you can give fans more access, you’re going to have something successful on your hands."
Sure, MVP is Shark Tank with shoulder pads, but by adapting that for online it's become something new, something that appeals to connected viewers with portable devices. As long as there are crazy startups that could use the help of a pro athlete, the show has a future.
The short-form mobile video service will partner with T-Mobile for its April 2020 launch, but what that means is unclear. Can subscribers expect a discount?
Serving videos to mobile-first teens seemed like an easy money grab, but Go90 is the latest in a long line of platforms to never find an audience.
With Oath focused on distribution at scale and building an audience across platforms, a standalone video service just didn't make sense.
Verizon's free app-based video bundle for mobile-using millennials never found an audience. Now, the team behind Vessel will rebuild it.
Go90 viewers will soon be able to watch daily NBA highlights and some exclusive content, and purchase access out-of-market games.
The streaming service will launch on iOS and Android on Thursday, providing a millennial-oriented, mobile-first take on OTT video.