US Olympians Sue Bird, Alex Morgan, Simone Manuel and Chloe Kim have teamed up to launch a new company aimed at focusing attention on women in sports and the media.
They announced Tuesday the formation of TOGETHXR, which they described as a media and commerce company aimed at Gen Z and young millennial women.
“This brand is certainly for this generation, it’s for our co-founders and their teammates, and this collective women’s sports landscape, but it’s really for the next generation,” chief content officer Jessica Robertson told CNN. “It’s so young girls can see themselves reflected in the stories that we tell, that they have a place to go that feels like they’re bigger than themselves, gives them something to aspire to, and to be seen and heard and recognized.”
She said men’s sports dominate the airwaves, despite the growing number of female athletes.
Nicole M. LaVoi, the director of the The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, told CNN that decades of research found that women’s sports only got about 2-4% of the coverage.
“The paradox is coverage has gone down while more and more girls and women are playing sports,” LaVoi said in an email. “And now high profile women athletes, like those in TOGETHXR, are taking this lack of coverage into their own hands and disrupting the existing landscape of media coverage that has benefited and overrepresented men.”
Robertson came to TOGETHXR after working at The Players’ Tribune, which was founded by legendary New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter.
She said many of their best stories came from female athletes, but women’s sports get only a fraction of the coverage of men’s sports.
“When you have low visibility, it’s really hard to grow your fan base and grow interest. Less people are buying tickets, literally, there aren’t people in the seats,” Robertson said. “If there’s not a lot of fandom and a want to see the stories or watch these games, then there’s a lack of investment from corporations and big brand partners.”
She hopes the new company will break that cycle.
The company is operated and funded by Magnet Companies, a private equity-backed holding company.
Robertson said the company will create daily short-form content for Instagram, TikTok and other social media channels as well as original content for their YouTube channel and other streaming services.
The company released a trailer for its first docuseries called “Fenom,” which highlights 17-year-old boxer Chantel “Chicanita” Navarro, who hopes to fight in the Olympics.
She said the co-founders will be active in the company and have projects that they’re interested in developing for the brand — as executive producers, creative directors and in some cases, as talent.
“They’re really helping us continue to set the vision for where this can go,” Robertson said. “It comes from them. They know this space, this is their space, this is their identity.”
Manuel, who won four medals at the 2016 Olympics and became the first Black American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, shared her excitement on Twitter.
“I can’t wait to share everything we have in store,” she wrote. “There has never been a place for women that exist like this. It’s about damn time.”
Morgan plays for the Orlando Pride professional woman’s soccer team and has won two World Cup championships and an Olympic gold medal with the US Women’s National Soccer team.
She said she was proud to be partnering with Manuel, Bird, who’s won four WNBA championships and four Olympic gold medals, and snowboarder Kim, who won a gold medal in snowboarding in 2018.
“I am proud to be one of four phenomal co-founders of this brand. There has never been a place for women that exists like this. We got sick of waiting for someone to build some space for us, so we did it ourselves,” Morgan wrote on Twitter.