UConn’s Paige Bueckers (right) and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Twitter, Opendorse Partner to Help Student Athletes Monetize NIL

Once the NCAA passes legislation and rules to allow collegiate student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL), there’s going to be a flood of endorsement options and opportunities to help players receive long-awaited compensation for their play on the field. And when NIL rules are finally in place — likely by July or August — Twitter and Opendorse will be well-positioned to help student-athletes immediately benefit from their personal brands.

On Thursday, the two companies announced a partnership on a program that will combine Opendorse’s endorsement marketplace with Twitter Video Sponsorships, allowing advertisers to sponsor pre-roll videos before athletes’ video tweets — and ensure those student-athletes are safely and fairly compensated for their work.

“It aligns the advertiser with the content creator they’re seeking, with the brand-safe content that they need, while reaching the audience they’re trying to generate interest in,” Opendorse’s co-founder and CEO Blake Lawrence told Boardroom. “That’s the alignment for the advertiser, the athlete, and the audience. It’s getting prepared for a moment that is inevitable.”

Opendorse is a sports technology company that allows its users to conveniently build their brands on one platform and maximize endorsement values through various social and advertising campaigns. It’s used by more than 40,000 athletes and organizations around the world, including the  PGA Tour, NHL, NFLPA, MLBPA, WNBPA, LPGA, athletic programs like Ohio State, Florida, and Texas, as well as superstar athletes like Patrick Mahomes, Luka Doncic, Alex Morgan and Trevor Bauer.

“Twitter has been part of the Opendorse DNA since day one,” Lawrence said, adding that Opendorse’s first automated social media post was a tweet all the way back in 2013.

Lawrence has been working with David Herman, Twitter Sports’ senior managing partner, for five years on different approaches to working together. At the start of 2021, the two realized that a joint effort on NIL would benefit everyone involved.

Student-athletes who use Opendorse Deals, the platform that allows brands to browse, book, and activate endorsements, will be able to opt in to Twitter’s video program via the Opendorse app or website. Brands then have an opportunity to identify student-athletes whose sport, school, or content works for their needs. Those athletes will then get invitations to work with those various brands and companies with rates of compensation.

Athletes, as part of the invitation, would be asked to upload a video of at least 45-60 seconds in length demonstrating their shooting technique in basketball, swing tips in baseball or golf or mechanics in throwing a perfect spiral. When those videos are published to Twitter, they’ll automatically have pre-roll ads attached to that content, ensuring the athletes generate revenue and are adequately and appropriately compensated for their work.

“Over the years, we have developed content partnerships with networks, teams, and leagues to bring the biggest moments in college sports to life,” Twitter’s Herman said via an official release. “Athlete-generated content is the final, most impactful piece of that puzzle. We’re committed to empowering athletes to not only create content, but to earn meaningful compensation once rules changes allow. Our partnership with Opendorse will bring opportunities to athletes across the full spectrum of college athletics.”

For Lawrence, he’s most excited about advertisers not only being able to align with some of the most engaging social media users in all of sports and the influencer and creator economy, but also the opportunity for these brands to be the first companies who can safely and sufficiently support student-athletes.

“As with everyone in the NIL space, advertisers are still waiting to understand where final legislation falls and what they can and cannot do,” he told Boardroom. “Once that legislation is in place, this partnership is there for the taking. This alignment with Twitter allows them to do it at scale through a platform they’re familiar with, with a highly targeted audience and a highly engaged fan base that they’re going to reach.”

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.