By Barry Janoff
December 8, 2016: Padlokt, an online platform that enables people to get up-close and personal with athletes and celebs via a live video chat forum and also have access to exclusive news and information, is moving from a beta test in its native Australia to a global presence today, unlocking its doors and signing on a roster of sports leagues, players and other personalities.
Among those who will have their own Talent Channel to which people can subscribe and interact with are Julius Randle of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, wide receiver Randall Cobb of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, four-time Olympic gold medal winner in track and field and TV personality Sanya Richards-Ross, former UFC fighter and now actor Marquel Martin; and Adam Hollioake, former professional crick player (England and Surrey), MMA fighter and boxer, who also is a Padlokt co-founder and its director of global partnerships.
In its first league deal, Paklokt said it also has signed an alliance with UFC to provide live video interactions with and receive exclusive content from some of its top current and former athletes.
Earlier this month, top-ranked UFC fighter Miesha Tate did a live chat in Australia as part of Padlock’s pre-launch strategy.
Padlock said it is talks with other athletes and leagues worldwide to boost its roster. They also plan to build a roster of actors, actresses and popular musicians from around the globe.
Worldwide media agency Ogilvy is part of Padlokt's team along with "other private strategic investors.”
"We created Padlokt to give fans a simple way to build a real connection with their idols and vice versa,” Trent Sydney, Australia-based managing director and co-founder for Padlokt, told NYSportsJournalism.com during a live video conversation. "We wanted to find a way for fans to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask, and for talent to answer those questions as they want them answered, face-to-face live over video and not through third parties.
"When you think about it, in order to gain access to athletes, they have to go to events, they have to travel, they are often put in uncomfortable situations where they are not at their best and not responding the way they might want to," said Sydney. "With Padlokt, when you speak with them, they are (usually) at home. They are playing with their dog. They are sitting back. They are relaxed. It is not contrived. It all feeds that comfortable environment that we want.”
Each Talent Channel costs $1.99 per month, which, according to Padlokt, in turn "provides unlimited access to all content published on that specific platform," such as exclusive news and information, and a video library, with the nucleus being the informal Q&As at predetermined times.
According to Padlokt, questions are submitted to the athletes in advance, and all sessions are monitored for obscene language and other potential Internet violations.
People are allowed to subscribe to as many channels as they like, with each separate channel for $1.99. (Details here.)
Paklokt said marketing support will include Internet and social media, with the message, "Padlokt is a fancaster of exclusive and live two-way video content, that takes fans into the inner sanctum of their sporting, entertainment and lifestyle idols."
Sydney said that word-of-mouth among athletes is also key, potentially inspiring those unfamiliar with the platform to investigate and sign on and then spread the word to their fans.
The first live two-way video sessions confirmed as part of the UFC partnership (though subject to change) are with flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (Dec. 15 7 PM PST), top-ranked UFC light heavyweight Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (Dec. 20 7 PM EST), top-five ranked UFC bantamweight Cody Garbrandt (Dec. 27 7 PM PST) and UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (Dec. 29 7 PM PST).
"We approached UFC directly," said Sydney. "We presented the platform and the concept. And they loved it. You can see how creative they are about connecting their talent with fans and the public. For the UFC, it’s all about their fans."
Sydney feels the platform will have a solid foundation in the U.S. and elsewhere and expand rapidly via more athletes and consumers.
"It’s about stripping back barriers from both sides of the relationship, whether geographical or economical, and creating a safe place that facilitates the fan-celebrity relationship," said Sydney. "Padlokt gets the fan closer to their idol and celebrity closer to their fans."
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