AI VTuber has 70k Twitch Followers, WWE Sale Rumors, and Formula 1’s ‘Drive to Survive’ Series Inspires Other Sports Leagues

January 20, 2023 by  wearerockwater

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What We’re Reading

3 articles + RockWater analysis to make you a better investor and operator. Today we discuss the potential of AI in the Creator Economy, potential buyers emerging for the WWE, and premium docuseries as media assets for sports leagues.


There’s an AI VTuber now and it has 70,000 Followers on Twitch
Tubefilter, 01.06.2023

The RockWater Take by Chris Erwin

There’s not enough chatter about the impact of #AI on community mgmt. Surprising since 35% of creators ranked “connecting with audiences” as their top need.

To date the AI chatter has focused on content generation…

👉 Bloggers can scale weekly publishings while maintaining voice and minimize staffing costs.

👉 Fuel an unending metaverse world expansion (needed for scaled success), similar to how UGC enabled the endless-scroll newsfeed for FB and IG, the key enabler for outsized ad revenue growth.

👉 Endless variations for multi-variate image and copy testing for paid mktg campaigns, thumbnails, etc.

But what about community mgmt and monetization?

Competition to reach new audiences, and then retain and engage those audiences, is getting tougher by the minute.

There are over 207 million creators out there. And more than a third said connecting with their audiences is what they care most about as a creator…that was the top-rated answer in the survey about creator needs!

Everyday new creators, social / gaming / entertainment platforms, media co’s et al are vying for consumer attention. To stand out means more time, and more money…both are scarce resources for the majority of creators!

Case in point, 52% of creators make under $10,000 per year.

Here’s how AI could help…

👉 “Cameo-like” monetization across your entire fan base. Imagine if MrBeast did this?! The right strategy is critical, and TBD if it makes sense for his brand, but here’s some back of the envelope math…

150 million subs x 5% conversion (higher than avg cause it’s AI optimized) x $10 booking revenue (lower cost due to scale) less 15% in service fees (he could negotiate a better rate VS standard 25%) = $64 million of monthly revenue. That’d be a lot of $$ to give back to charity, fans, and for reinvestment to enable the most out-of-this-world MrBeast vids.

👉 Personalized DMs to all your fans, based on “social listening” like scraping their past social posts, video comments, DMs, creator store purchases, etc. And all instantaneously, and at much lower cost, VS stacking up a bunch of different tech tools managed by humans. With the right tools, 1 or 2 AI-powered humans (that’s a crazy thing to say) could constantly be pushing DMs to promote new video releases, announcements of launches on other platforms, and new products for sale.

👉 Aligned with above point, you can drive cost savings on socal community teams. Or even better, get multiples of return on same levels of spend (at RockWater we’re pro social community and mangaer teams, who are often understaffed and misrepresented within the industry for how many key fuctions they service). How? Not only by the “social listening” tools mentioned above, but also by accelerating community mgmt training for publishers and creators based on what techniques are most effective from past activity, industry peers, and the countless other global inputs that could drive this feedback loop.

👉 More timely and personalized CSR for merch and product orders, subscriptions, delivery questions. Get instant updates and problem resolution. Another great idea…for every shipped product order, an AI-powered script writer prints the customer a personalized handwritten-card by the creator. That would be customer-delighting.

And so much more…

It was thus cool to read the TubeFilter article about AI Vtuber Neuro-sama on Twitch, who amassed a following of 70,000 fans. She actually plays Minecraft but also interacts with the chat in a fun and irreverent way.

Awesome, but far from perfect.

She was recently banned from Twitch for 2 wks after making comments that doubted the Holocaust. She’ll be back after her “maker” Vedal programs some key updates.

Yup, AI and the creator economy have incredible potential. But clearly, there’s still a lot of work to do…




New Buyers Enter the Mix to Bid on the WWE’s Impending Sale
WrestlingHeadlines, 01.13.2023

The RockWater Take by Michael Booth

I’m having fun reading the rumors on who is in talks to buy the WWE. Mostly the usual suspects (streamers and cable networks), but a few interesting players are tossing their hats in the ring. 

1. Endeavor rolls them into their owned media portfolio with the UFC. Fun fact, UFC now accounts for over 50% of Endeavors bottom line… great acquisition. They have the balance sheet to pull off a $5B acquisition and have proven smart operators of combat sports promotions. Decent likelihood.

2. A wacky reverse merger scenario where All Elite Wrestling and WWE get packaged into one company and either standalone operate or shortly thereafter sell to another buyer. Would be a consolidation of the two biggest pro wrestling assets (AEW has been buying up smaller promotions, like Ring of Honor, over the past year, so US market share of the combined entity would be huge). Very unlikely, but fun speculation.

3. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) makes its latest media acquisition. PIF definitely has the intent and money to pull it off, but TBD if Vince McMahon wants to leave his legacy in their hands. His father started the WWE and he’s been at its helm for the last 40 years as the majority shareholder. Hard to price the value of one’s personal and family legacy. Big investments that PIF made last year include:


⛳ $2B investment in LIV Golf

🎮 $14B set aside by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) for eSports acquisitions

⚽ $3.6B acquisition (in negotiation) of Liverpool Football Club

🏙 $500B budget to build smart city NEOM, which will host many futuristic sports venues and has already begun hosting international competitions (2022 Neom Beach Games)





Formula 1’s ‘Drive to Survive’ Inspires Other Challenger Sports Leagues to Produce Premium Docuseries

The RockWater Take by Michael Booth

Exciting to see Formula 1’s “Drive to Survive” series is inspiring other challenger sports leagues to leverage premium docuseries to win over US market share. Drive to Survive debuted as a Netflix docuseries in 2019, and has since been renewed for five seasons. Its key wins thus far:

🤩 33% increase in F1 fans, from 21% of US adults in 2020 –> to 28% in 2022 (per Morning Consult)

🎉 53% of US F1 fans said that “Drive to Survive played a role in becoming a fan”. That number increases to 74% for fans under 40 years old (per Morning Consult)

🏟 F1’s 2022 Miami Grand Prix saw a record 2.6 million U.S. viewers, the largest audience for a live F1 race broadcast on American television, breaking a previous record set in the 1990s (per ESPN)

Drive to Survive focuses on explaining the lore / history of F1 and deep dives on the stories of its drivers. Great content mix that simultaneously delights hardcore super fans with exclusive behind the scenes footage, while also giving casuals / non-fans a comprehensive primer on the basics of the sport and introducing compelling athletes for them to root for.

Not a new concept, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has been executing against this vision to great success with The Ultimate Fighter since 2005.

I wonder if the sports league premium docuseries format will hit audience saturation with four shows announced for 2023 release across golf, rugby, tennis, and surfing respectively.

Certainly not all will be hits, but perhaps one or two could see Drive to Survive levels of success. My bets would be on golf and tennis.

photo cred: Sports Tech World Series (STWS)




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