National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. So it’s appropriate La Vida Baseball– A media company dedicated to producing and delivering to the United States Latino audience – closed the $ 10 million round in late September. The money raised will be used to expand the business of La Vida Sports, a three-part holding company that includes La Vida Baseball; a consulting practice for teams, leagues, brands and media companies looking to engage the demo through content; and a La Vida Sports content studio that produces programming at the intersection of sports, lifestyle and culture. TeamWorks Media (founder and CEO of La Vida Baseball), Jay Sharman, explained that the company is working to help demographics that have traditionally been subordinated to mainstream media, at a time when data finally supports the ambition to do so.
JWS ‘to: La Vida Baseball was born out of a TeamWorks Media client project with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017. Sharman said the museum “saw the obvious signs that baseball growth” [would come] from the American Latino fans [and] did not feel prepared. “It entered into a joint venture with the digital media company to create La Vida Baseball. TeamWorks Media was encouraged to succeed the first two years and acquired full ownership of the hall at the end of 2019.
Push to reinforce Latino culture and connect with the public through sports is not new to La Vida Baseball. “Honestly, that’s what we’ve done,” Sharman explained. “Now [with La Vida Sports], we are just formalizing [the offerings]- Packaging [the services] and to put [them] out there. “The company could have continued to tighten its efforts. But by raising capital, the hope is that it can hire the personnel needed to speed up the vision.
The motivation to expand the business is now supported by data. The 2020 census indicated that 19% of the current American population is Hispanic (62.3 million people). As La Vida Baseball CEO Jesse Menendez said, the market is “no longer multicultural. This is the gene market.”
It is reasonable to be skeptical that teams, leagues, media companies and brands that have historically underestimated and subordinated this demographic will suddenly invest due to the recent census. As Sharman said: “Those who have been in this market for a long time call it the census. These talks take place every ten years. It is a first bump in interest, and then it seems to subside. »
But the numbers seem too staggering to ignore this time, Sharman said. “The highest population growth in each state, and the District of Columbia, was the Latin public. It is the fastest growing and it is the youngest. [demographic]. [The demo] represents $ 1.7 trillion in purchasing power. But, depending on who you source from, it accounts for less than 3% of your advertising dollars. There is a huge opportunity for brands that understand this to positively impact their business ”from an income perspective.
Historically, a boxing mentality has largely existed when it comes to society. Teams, leagues, media companies and brands have believed that if they translate content into Spanish, they will appeal to the demographics. But, as Menendez explained, “if you do not do the work to engage this audience authentically, you lack the chance to establish a deeper, richer connection. It is only when the connection is established that you can effectively inspire them to take action.”
There is evidence to support the notion that if a company or brand invests authentically in Latin society, there are positive returns to be gained. “Our largest client is Nestlé USA,” said Ingrid Otero-Smart (President, Casanova // McCann). “They have made a significant commitment to marketing to Latinos, and their bottom line has been positively impacted by this. More than a dozen of their brands are advertising for our segment, and for some brands, Spanish consumption is driving growth today.” Chevy and Coke have also gained market share based on their joint campaigns.
Media companies are also starting to take the opportunity in space more seriously. Marquee Sports Network has recently invested in original American Latino-focused studio content (featuring La Vida Baseball) for its social channels and in a prime-time Latino Heritage Month Cubs special for the cable channel. Programming director Allison Bertucci said that RSN exists “to cover the history of the Chicago Cubs, and the story can not be told without the huge contributions of the Latin community, and the passionate fans who come to Wrigley Field every game.” NBC Sports Chicago also announced that it would be broadcast To be Guillen (a La Vida Baseball original) through the post-season 2021 and into 2022.
But the problem many companies encounter is a question of resources. Because “this is the first time they are forced to take this into account [audience], they realize they do not have people in the staff to [execute], ”Said Menendez. “The incoming calls we received were less about, ‘Can we sponsor La Vida Baseball?’ And more about, ‘Can you help us get in better touch with the Latin public through sports?’ “Sharman, Atlanta Braves, Topps and the Smithsonian Museum are among the companies that received La Vida Baseball as a consultant and partner. The company helped Braves create more culturally relevant sponsorship packages; worked with the Smithsonian on the travel projects.
La Vida Baseball raised $ 10 million for a valuation of $ 32 million from a group of private investors. The company is not yet profitable on an annual basis. But Sharman suggested that investors see value in the vision of La Vida Sports and the significant market interest that came from media companies, teams, leagues and brands that want to engage with the American Latino audience. Having the largest non-MLB-owned Latino baseball content library in the world (20,000 hours); relationships and distribution agreements with various media companies in place (see: NBC Sports, Turner Sports, FOX Deportes and Minute Media, MLB and MiLB); and dozens of original content franchises and media features did not hurt. “Almost every Latino Major League Baseball player knows and respects the brand,” said Sharman. The company has developed an influencer network with more than 50 current Major Leaguers, several Hall of Famers and some of the biggest influencers in the sport and in Latino culture.