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With the NBA signed up, is Zigazoo the social media network sport needs to reach Gen Alpha and Gen Z?

After the NBA announced a multi-year partnership with Zigazoo, SportsPro ventures onto the kid-friendly, TikTok-meets-Reddit style social platform to find out what the opportunity is for sport.

6 June 2023 Sam Carp

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It doesn’t feel that long ago (was it really 2019?!) that sports properties launching a TikTok account was classified as worthy industry news. Today, teams and leagues only tend to push out a release about the short-form video platform when they have reached a follower milestone.

So you’ll forgive me for having a sense of déjà vu last week when I saw that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has agreed a multi-year partnership with Zigazoo, which, as of 31st May, now has platforms tailored for both generation Alpha (Zigazoo Kids) and generation Z (Zigazoo Social Media for Teens).

‘Surely not,’ I thought to myself. ‘Not more social media platforms I may have to vaguely familiarise myself with for the purposes of work?’

Which is probably not too dissimilar to the current thought process of some readers who are still figuring out what works best on TikTok.

Despite the best efforts of some of those close to me, I’ve still just about been able to resist creating my own TikTok account. But this week I downloaded the Zigazoo apps so that you don’t have to – as well as to find out why the NBA has been convinced to join the platforms and their potential to increase fan engagement with younger audiences.

What is it?

Launched in 2020 and recently rebranded from simply Zigazoo, Zigazoo Kids is billed as a kid-safe, TikTok-meets-Reddit style social platform for Gen Alpha. Zigazoo Social Media for Teens, meanwhile, went live this week for youngsters aged 13 and over.

When I opened Zigazoo Kids I was prompted to enter the age of my (hypothetical) child, meaning parents have control over what their children see. Zigazoo Social Media for Teens asked for my age, suggesting it is geared towards youngsters with their own phones.

What are the platforms like?

At first glance, a lot like TikTok. The homepage is a feed of suggested videos based on the pages you’ve subscribed to and the interests you enter when first downloading the apps, with verticals dedicated to things like fashion, gaming, dance, music, memes, and sports. There’s also a discover page, while users are able to like videos and give gifts to content creators.

Perhaps the main difference is that Zigazoo’s apps are video-only platforms, meaning that users cannot reply to posts with comments – just videos. The company believes this mitigates the issue of toxicity that has come to be associated with some of the main social media platforms.

Who uses it?

I can’t give you an exact number, but Zigazoo claims its Kids platform has had more than one million downloads since launch and has consistently ranked in the top ten kids apps on the iOS store.

Who’s backing it?

The NBA is an investor in Zigazoo after participating in the network’s US$17 million Series A funding round, which also drew backing from other names familiar to the sports industry, including Animoca Brands, Dapper Labs and OneFootball. Serena Williams’ venture capital firm has also invested in the platform, which already has a reported valuation of US$100 million.

Who is on there?

From this point on I’ll primarily be referring to Zigazoo Kids because, as previously mentioned, it’s been around a lot longer than the new Gen Z-focused platform.

The NBA was the only North American major league I could find on the platform with an official account, which has 4,000 subscribers, although that is bettered by WWE’s 58,300 subs. As far as sports and entertainment goes, those aren’t bad first movers from a credibility standpoint.

I’m assured that other sports properties have worked with Zigazoo, which has also been used to promote shows on media platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV.

What content are they posting?

WWE has predominantly dealt in challenges around flagship events like Wrestlemania, when it asked its followers to respond with videos of their ‘best flex’ and ‘announcer yell’. Responses are then ranked based on how many likes they get.

Similarly, the NBA has launched its partnership with Zigazoo to coincide with the start of its finals and is promoting a series of challenges and questions to users across both platforms, asking fans how they would celebrate if they won the championship and which team they want to win.

What’s the opportunity for sports?

At the very least it’s an opportunity to engage with a younger audience earlier in their fan journey. There is an educational feel to the platform which means leagues and teams can create challenges that not only increase affiliation with their brand, but also get kids active and make theirs the sport of choice as children choose their hobbies.

Plus, with parents having control over what their kids watch on Zigazoo Kids, they might be influenced to take their children to games or buy them merchandise further down the line if they see them enjoying challenges shared by a particular sport.

Other monetisation opportunities will no doubt present themselves, which could include content collaborations with brands – like toy manufacturers, for example – that are focused on younger demographics.

Will it catch on?

It’s probably too early to say but I don’t see why not. Sport will soon need to turn its attention from Gen Z to Gen Alpha and Zigazoo is already marketing itself as a destination to reach that audience. Plus, with regular uncertainty over TikTok’s future in certain markets, there could soon be a place for a substitute short-form video platform of choice.

I also noticed that, as well as its talent, WWE used ‘kid ambassadors’ to promote some of its challenges. More and more sports leagues are enlisting the services of youngsters to help them reach the next generation, so Zigazoo would be a platform they could essentially own.

Anyhow, I’ve just got a notification about a new Little Mermaid challenge, which is probably my cue to end this week’s crusade of curiosity.

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