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Why Drake, LeBron, Nas, KD and more are investing in high school basketball

Digital media startup focusing on high school basketball athletes, Mars Reel has recently completed its initial round of funding, reaping $4.7 million with donations from Drake, NBA star Dwyane Wade, and Otter Media, now part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Variety reports.

Mars Reel offers high school basketball a bigger platform, providing highlights and other short clips. The company also has ambitions producing longer-form content, including video diary series Mars Reel Chronicles and documentary series Life on Mars.

Facilities like Mars Reel are one of many startup companies that are specifically targeting high schoolers. Not only because they are our immediate future, but because they make-up Gen Z, which is already on track to become the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020, accounting for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending.

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VP of consumer intelligence at Barkley, Joe Cardador PhD. said when speaking to Forbes that, according to his research,

“Gen Z is on track to become the largest generation of consumers in just a few short years. They already represent up to $143 billion in buying power – and that’s without accounting for the influence they have on household spending.”

The deal is similar to the one that took place earlier in February of the year when sports-media start-up, Overtime received backing from Kevin Durant via his investment firm, Durant Co. The start-up raised a total of $9.5 million led by Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Overtime’s focus is on braking emerging high-school sports stars by monetizing their highlights from Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube to cater to a younger demo that is watching far less live sports on TV then their elders do.

It’s common for superstars to have business teams and market insiders, and it’s clear they’ve spotted potential in Generation Z’s athletes.

Forbes also spoke to Steph Wissink who is the managing director and consumer research analyst at Jefferies. According to him,

“Gen-Zers are showing a willingness to explore and discover, to consume information/media exponentially more than products, and to insert themselves into the consumption conversation – in their households, online and among digital social circles.”

It makes sense to invest in the lives of these kids, the potential return is stupendous.

Mars Reel has a distribution deal with USA Today Sports and a content partnership with LeBron James’ Uninterrupted, which is also a digital media platform.

In addition to their investment, Otter Media will serve as an advisor and strategic partner to Mars Reel in a variety of ways. Dwyane and Drake now join Shane Battier, Kevin Durant; hip-hop artist Nas and actor Cedric Stewart as backers of this endeavor.

Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves to The Hollywood Reporter said,

“Sports brings out a passion and engagement in fans that is unmatched, and Mars Reel is super-serving the younger generation of sports enthusiasts by giving them authentic sports content that is organic to their world and designed specifically to their unique viewing habits.”

The funding round brings Mars Reels total funding to $7.5 million thus far.