Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator-focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.
He calls himself King of the Fourth Quarter, but this past weekend, he was king of an entire game.
The NBA All-Star Game, to be exact.
KOT4Q–aka Kenny Beecham–was the official host of House of Highlights’ Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis coverage, starring in the digital sports brand’s full-game live show broadcast on Twitter. For Beecham, it was simultaneously an incredible opportunity, and just another day at work.
For those not in the know, House of Highlights was originally an Instagram account launched in 2014 by Omar Raja, and acquired in 2015 by sports website Bleacher Report. Under Bleacher Report’s wing, HoH grew from half a million followers to now more than 15.9 million–and in 2018, it was bringing in so much traffic that its numbers began eclipsing Bleacher Report’s. Starting a HoH YouTube channel was part of Bleacher Report’s plan to expand the brand off Instagram and market it as a more standalone entity.
In 2018, Beecham had been on YouTube for six years, making videos about his No. 1 passion: the NBA. He’d grown up surrounded by basketball, but after realizing he wasn’t going to make it into the league as a player, he decided to try his hand at NBA 2K, its long-running official video game franchise. He turned his YouTube channel (now at 642K subscribers and around 8 million views per month) into one of the top 2K outlets, maintaining a grueling daily upload schedule and covering the game’s latest iterations and updates. When HoH decided to set up its YouTube presence by working with established content creators, Beecham was an obvious choice.
Since then, he’s cohosted HoH’s weekly NBA fan podcast, Through the Wire. It’s HoH’s longest-running original series, and nets more than 50K views every episode.
Beecham hosting HoH’s All-Star show was a new opportunity with familiar faces, but also evidence of a recent change in his relationship with the brand. At the beginning of this year, he signed on to host not just the All-Star Game, but a range of live shows, plus other upcoming original content. And, amidst all this, he has plans to keep growing his own YouTube career–including an upcoming summertime merch drop.
Check out our chat with him below.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in the days before YouTube?
Kenny Beecham: I’m Kenny Beecham from Chicago, and I’m known around YouTube as a die-hard basketball fan. YouTube started for me when I was 14, so I legally wasn’t old enough to have a job beforehand. But I was really active in school with basketball, baseball, and football at the time. I graduated high school and went on to community college, where I decided that I only liked the communications classes. I eventually decided not to continue college after getting my associate’s degree, because by that point, my YouTube channel was growing dramatically.
Tubefilter: What made you decide to launch a YouTube channel? What do you think YouTube offers you, as a content creator, to help you grow your platform and build your career?
KB: I started my YouTube channel as a hobby, along with two friends. We had been viewers of a bunch of gaming channels, and thought it would be cool to create our own little collective of creators. It was a great start, because we all pushed each other to continue to get better.
Eventually, my two friends realized they didn’t enjoy making videos, but I fell in love with the process and seeing people around the world leave comments about what I was doing.
Honestly, other than being a platform for the videos to exist on, Youtube hasn’t done anything to help grow my brand.
Tubefilter: You had something huge happen this past weekend. You hosted House of Highlights’ NBA All-Star Game live show. How did that opportunity come about? What was it like to be on set and presenting?
KB: I’ve been working with House of Highlights for almost two years now. In 2020, I signed on to host the remaining live shows along with other original content. Being on set is so natural to me because I work really hard to prepare, and House of Highlights has such a good team around to make everything as easy as possible.
Tubefilter: Going back in time a bit . . . What made you fall in love with gaming? How did you discover NBA 2K?
KB: I fell in love with gaming back in the Call of Duty 4 days. I would visit my dad’s house on the weekends and spend hours playing CoD4. Eventually, when Call of Duty: World at War was released, he got me my own console and Xbox Live. I remember going to school the next day and asking everyone if they had Xbox Live, and built a group of kids to play with.
Shortly after that, my dad got me NBA 2K9 because a few of my new friends were playing it. I’ve been following the 2K series since then.
Tubefilter: When did you get your first check for online video revenue? How much was it for?
KB: My first check came in 2014, three full years after I started making videos. The check was for a little more than $100, and I was on top of the world when I got it. In retrospect, three years of work for $100 isn’t a good deal, but I was doing it as a hobby–so to see any money was insane to me.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional creator?
KB: I remember being nervous to sit my dad down and tell him I was quitting my job at the vitamin shop to do YouTube for money. It was September 2017, I had just got a check for $500, and that was more than what I was making at the shop. I was also in college, so trying to juggle all these things at once was almost impossible. I was getting three hours of sleep a night, so I had to make a sacrifice. But even then, I didn’t see myself as a creator, because I was trying to get a degree to eventually end up with a “real job.” Luckily, my dad welcomed the idea and never questioned what I decided.
— Kory Jayne (@KoriganJayneNS) February 17, 2020
Tubefilter: What makes you so passionate about basketball? What draws you to it in a way that other sports don’t?
KB: My uncle is a Chicago high school basketball legend who went on to play college ball in Hawaii, so basketball is in my DNA. When I was six, he’d pick me up and bring me to his house where my cousins were, and we’d go to the gym and practice basketball every single day. We’d spend weeks at a time in the summer at his house learning, watching, and playing the game of basketball.
Eventually, I realized that I was never going to be an NBA player. I had to find a way to stay around the game, so I studied it so I can talk about it.
I think the NBA has a huge impact on the culture, with it being connected to music, fashion, gaming, and many other things.
Tubefilter: Have you noticed your audience growing lately? What are you doing to bring in viewers and build your platform?
KB: Of course I see the growth. I spend a lot of time looking through my analytics, comments, and social media to see what works and what doesn’t with my audience. I wish I could say I do something unique to bring in new viewers, but I just create content that I like and that my existing audience likes and hope that YouTube recommends my videos to new viewers.
Tubefilter: Is YouTube your full-time career? At what point did you know you could go all-in? Was there a sudden moment where you were like, “This is it, I’m going full-time,” or did it happen gradually?
KB: At this point in time, Youtube is my full time career. A little after my 18th birthday I was doing so well that I could afford to move out of my parents’ house. I made a promise that I’d go to community college and pursue a degree because Youtube success wouldn’t last forever. By the time I received my associates’ degree I was making enough money to be saving for a house. That’s the moment where I decided that I would become a full time Youtuber.
Tubefilter: What’s your production schedule like? Walk us through an average day. What do you get up to aside from video-making?
KB: For a very long time, I had a set schedule for how I went about working. But with all of the work with House of Highlights, my routine has become more and more atypical.
I usually wake up around 9 a.m. every day to get ready for the day. By 10 a.m., I’m in my office editing whatever video I recorded the previous night. By 1 p.m., I’m usually done with editing, and I try to get some “me” time. That could be going to the gym or going to the mall just to walk around. I find that a lot of my best ideas come when I’m away from my office. I’ll return home around 3 p.m. and start to upload the video, and it’ll be released at 4 p.m.. At that time, my girlfriend is arriving home from work, and I spend a few hours with her before it’s time to get back to work. At 6 p.m., the first batch of NBA games has started, and now work begins for the night. I watch games until the last one ends around midnight. Then it’s time to record my video for the next day, and it can take up to two hours. Then I go to sleep and repeat.
Tubefilter: Have you had any brand partnerships or sponsorships? Have you released or are you developing merch?
KB: I’ve done a few sponsorships on my channel, but I’m usually pretty picky on what I greenlight. I try to make sure whatever I’m promoting is something I believe my viewers would legitimately use. Because of this, I turn down 90% of the sponsorship deals that come to the table.
I tried my hand at merch and we actually sold way more than I expected, so I’m planning on dropping season two of merch this summer.
But the biggest way I monetize outside of my YouTube channel is my podcast and all the work I do with House of Highlights.
Tubefilter: Can you let us know about any people working with you behind the scenes? Do you have an editor for your channel? What about a manager or network?
KB: When it comes to my personal YouTube channel, I am a one-man show. I shoot and edit everything that I release. I had a period of time with an editor to lower my workload, but I hate not being in full control of my product. You can’t always transfer your vision to someone else, no matter how talented they are at their craft. I recently signed on to Up North Management because I believe they can help manage all the emails I receive and also help me continue to grow my brand.
When I’m working with House of Highlights, we have a team full of amazing producers. I can’t express enough how great of a team they’ve built in the company. I may be the one on camera, but everything we do is touched by at least one of the producers to make sure it’s as perfect as possible.
Tubefilter: What do you think is the most vital skill you possess as a creator?
KB: I personally believe the most vital skill I have is being personable with my audience. When I release a video, you’re seeing the real Kenny Beecham. It’s not something I try to do, but just being myself gets people to enjoy my content.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you? What are you building toward?
KB: What’s next for me is being a name that the majority of basketball lovers know. I don’t know hold long it’ll take, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job at the age of 23.
Beecham is a client of Up North Management.
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