Gary Kleinman is the CEO is the CEO of a WHAM a truly unique and engaging streaming platform that will be all things gaming when it launches later this spring. Kleinman has created, managed and activated sound experiential marketing campaigns for Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros, PBS/WGBH, MLB, AEG Sports and others. Whether it was connecting college students to “Seinfeld,” or re-creating the Freedom Ride, Gary understood and created story based activations that drove tune-in, purchase intent, or content consumption for some of the world ‘s most important brands. Last year, Kleinman across an article detailing the world of eSports and gaming. Fascinated by the absolute commitment by the audience to live eSports events, which he thought was a mistake in the numbers, he embarked on a journey to understand the passion points and connective tissue between gamers and games. He understood the core reasons why gaming is such an integral part of the lifestyle and cultural fabric of society. Since no one was speaking to the lifestyle and culture of gaming, he created WHAM, an independent and agnostic digital media platform that covers the news, information of gaming while producing engaging original entertainment programming to this global phenomenon.
In our podcast, he talks about the genesis of WHAM and the road he has been on since. He also addresses the changing landscape of television, and shares some stories of his career in experiential marketing.
Some of the key points to listen for:
Defining eSports vs. Gaming: While the word eSports is thrown around as a multimillion, sometimes billion dollar business, in reality eSports less than ONE PERCENT of actual gaming. Gaming, which is an established global business, includes everything from Madden and NBA 2K to Angry Birds and Words With Friends. It crosses generations and is much more made up of simple mobile games vs. console gaming, which is what many people think of when they hear the term gaming. As far as the eSports crossover goes, Kleinman said that about 20 percent of the gaming world are actually eSports fans today, but that number is growing.
The Gaming Culture: Kleinman carefully points out that the current rise in a “gaming culture” is not dissimilar from the “surfing culture” of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, or the skateboarding culture or even the MMA culture. These revolved around lifestyle; clothes, communal activities, music, film, and a passionate love not just of an activity but of a mindset. The same can be said of various aspects of the gaming culture, which is now evolving into a more widely accepted lifestyle brand encompassing all those things.
“Crossing Generations:” WHAM has seen “gaming” grow to the point where some games are shared experiences between grandparents and kids. Maybe not console games, but simpler communal games. They will even have a show about seniors engaged in gaming, and their interaction with younger people.
“Gaming Is The New Reading:” While he points out that he once chased his kids out of the house for spending too much time playing video games, the evolution of the culture and the advancement of games now has seen young people learn, play roles, solve conflicts and expand their thinking and personalities much like reading used to be. While nothing replaces literature, some games have been a great asset to teaching and giving young people the ability to expand their minds.
STEM help: He also pointed out that every time gaming is introduced into the academic setting, the progressive teachers get excited. Gaming in all forms revolves around STEM Science Technology, Education and Math, four key areas of growth in the school system, and if gaming is the way to improve those skills and create jobs, so be it.
Where The Money Came From: WHAM will not be launched on a whim. It was a carefully thought out business partnership that included Cinedigm, the leading independent content distributor in the United States, with direct relationships with over 60,000 physical and digital retailers. They also have an already built digital platform that will be part of the WHAM launch strategy.
- Where WHAM Will Go: Since they will not be covering tournaments live per se, WHAM is really free to go anywhere where there are events around the business and culture of gaming. If you think of Twitch as ESPN, think of WHAM as maybe CNN. Is there a crossover market, will gaming fans just want to learn and engage more content just about their game or community? All of that remains to be seen.