March 2, 2018

A new platform dedicated to all things sports — all things women’s sports, that is


US Olympic bobsledder Lauren Gibbs.

NBCUniversal is partnering with Refinery29 to bring more attention and coverage to women’s sports, according to Sahil Patel at Digiday.

The mega-huge media corporation thinks the increased attention to women’s issues and rights will be a huge plus for this new endeavor, called On Her Turf. Its first iteration is an Instagram account.

Patel also spoke with the CMO of NBC Sports Group, Jenny Storms, who envisions On Her Turf highlighting women in all areas of the sports industry: from athletes currently competing in the Olympics to female executives and fans in otherwise male-dominated organizations like the NFL, the NHL, NASCAR, and the English Premier league. “We feel there’s a real opportunity here to showcase powerful women in sports and tell these inspirational stories. At the same time, we recognize that it would probably work best if we created a partnership with someone that’s already in the space and speaking closely to millennial women. That’s where Refinery29 comes in.”

…And it’s true! Refinery29 is one of the most forward-thinking, women-focused culture and news sites today, particularly in regards to the millennial’s take on the body positivity movement (Kelsey Miller’s “Anti-Diet Project” column, for instance, ran from 2013 until earlier this year).

While Patel notes neither NBC Sports nor Refinery29 is commenting on where the money for this project is coming from, the two companies see it as “both an editorial and marketing partnership.” NBC Sports will be in charge of ad sales.

Storms hopes On Her Turf will capitalize on this shifting (and growing) trend toward publishing into women’s interests: “Sponsors will be interested in this because we’ve seen partners attach themselves over the past year when it comes to stories of female empowerment.” On Her Turf will cover sports programming that airs on other networks, too.

According to Patel, Refinery29’s role will take the lead in shaping the project’s curatorial and editorial focus, which includes selecting content for the Instagram account.

Refinery29 has three people dedicated full time to On Her Turf and six more helping part time. The publisher will take the lead on packaging and programming the Instagram account and any other platform On Her Turf expands to. NBC Sports is supplying Refinery29 with its live sports and other sports-related video, including archival footage, and assisting in programming and distribution with the help of its 10-person social team.

Refinery29 joins other online media groups that are partnering with NBCUniversal; among these are BuzzFeed, who teamed up with NBC to launch a millennial parenting channel called Playfull, and Vox, who with NBCUniversal launched Concert, a tool that helps sell cross-platform premium advertising. NBCUniversal invested heavily in both BuzzFeed and Vox before these ventures.



Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.