LeBron James joins Drake in Canadian sports media deal

Rapper and Lakers forward join forces to bring Uninterrupted platform to Canada

LeBron James, left, and Drake at the premiere of the STARZ original series “Survivor’s Remorse” on Sept. 23, 2014 in Los Angeles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Sayles - Invision

Drake and LeBron James are joining forces to reshape the sports media landscape in Canada.

The music superstar and the Los Angeles Lakers forward announced on Tuesday a partnership to bring Uninterrupted, a digital platform for athletes, to Canada. Drake is a part owner and promoter for the platform which James began in 2015, while Scott Moore serves as chief executive officer and Vinay Virmani works as chief content officer.

Moore, who resigned as network president of Sportsnet in October, says Uninterrupted Canada will not be competing with his former employers, TSN, or any other traditional media outlets.

“I think it’s complementary, but it’s also a bit of a disruptor,” said Moore on Tuesday. “In trying to describe it to people it’s not a TV channel, it’s not a website, it’s not a Twitter feed. It’s a brand, it’s a content ecosystem that can appear anywhere.

“It might appear in a podcast, it might appear on Instagram, it might appear on YouTube, it might appear on a television channel. But it’s the content ecosystem and the brand itself that drives the content.”

Uninterrupted Canada will focus on the interests of athletes outside their field of play. When the Drake-James partnership was announced it was also confirmed that Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka would have a fashion-based property on the platform and that Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman — who was traded to New York by the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday — will have a motivational series.

Although it has clear ties to the NBA, Moore believes that many NHLers will also be interested in working with the company.

“Hockey players are dying to show their personalities,” said Moore. “I’ve seen this change over the last four or five years where hockey players have started to become their own brands, to let their personalities come through. You’ve seen it in Toronto with guys like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, in Vancouver with Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson.

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“Many professional athletes, regardless of their sport, want to build their brands. Want to have an opportunity to speak quote uninterrupted. That’s the beauty of this platform. It gives them the voice to do it.”

Drake will contribute his musical talents to some major projects, either creating original songs, as a producer, or as a consultant. But he and James’s primary contributions will be their impressive network of personal and professional connections.

“Obviously, it’s a gigantic advantage. The doors that open when you have two partners like that, the people that want to be involved with the platform when you’ve got two partners like that, the possibilities are endless,” said Moore. “In Canada, where there is no other brand like this, we’ve got a little bit of green field for a bit. I’m sure there will be others.

“You’ve got the biggest musician in the world and, arguably, the biggest professional athlete in the world, it makes for a strong brand, that’s for sure.”

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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