Meet the team | Rebecca Levin
What is your role at IMG?
I’m VP, Sports Management within IMG’s media business
What does your role include?
I’m responsible for managing sports properties’ domestic and international media rights, including clients such as LPGA, New York City Marathon, CrossFit, and World’s Strongest Man (WSM).
WSM has been an owned and operated IMG property since 1977, and I look after the business opportunities as well as the media relationships, digital and social opportunities, site deals, ticketing, sponsorship – basically anything and everything to do with the event – other than running the production or taking part!
IMG Studios look after half of the production and Film 45 looks after the other. It’s great to get to work with colleagues from across the business.
What drew you to want to work on The World’s Strongest Man property?
This is why I love IMG and Endeavor. I was in a meeting on WSM as I was managing the International Distribution, and it was brought up that they didn’t have anyone to manage their onsite sponsorship at the upcoming event in China.
I was sat next to the Director of the program and was super keen to throw my hat into the ring, so said under my breath, “you wouldn’t have to twist my arm”. He looked across the table to Hillary (Mandel) and asked, “Can I take Becca?” and that was the start of my journey with WSM.
From there I was both excited and intrigued by WSM and started to identify opportunities where I felt we could elevate the experience, sponsorship, and presence onsite. Thankfully people saw my passion for WSM and gave me the space to explore these opportunities.
I also had the support from WSM’s creator, Barry Frank, which meant I could push boundaries and had the freedom to take it to where we are today. WSM has continued to develop, and it now has a social following that rivals some of the Major Leagues. It’s exciting to see this legacy property use social in a unique and engaging way, driving more gen-z attention.
In terms of setting the social strategy (for WSM), how did you go about bringing it to life?
We noticed we had a growing online fan base, even though we only had an event once a year. Fans and casual viewers couldn’t help but watch these crazy feats of strength when they showed up on their social feeds. Like the rest of the industry, during covid we were on pause which meant we needed to find a new way to engage with our fans and provide our athletes with an opportunity to replace some of the prize money they missed out on from the cancelled season.
We were lucky that we had access to an archive of content, and bored strong men sitting at home eager to do fun things. From this came our Snap show ’World’s Strongest Man – Home Edition’. Each athlete was given a strength challenge where they had to swap weights for unique items around the house. This weekly show was a huge hit, fans loved it and the athletes loved being a part of it too!
We wanted to keep pushing the envelope so developed another Snap show called ‘Shredded’ using our archive content andlooking back at favourite moments, highlights, and athlete spotlights.
These shows were born out of taking a step back and reassessing our strategy but we’ve now evolved that content offering and have found an opportunity to create and develop further partnerships and revenue streams.
Today, that emphasis that we placed on social has paid off. Meta has noticed our strong fan engagement which has opened the door for us to participate in some of their new product offerings. For instance, we’ve now got 1.3M subscribers to our WhatsApp Channel. That’s more than MLB, NASCAR and the PGA Tour.
What would you say is your biggest achievement since working at IMG?
It would have to be WSM and bringing it into a new era. It’s evolved from being a made-for-TV Special to a sold-out ticketed event with a fan zone. This didn’t come without its hurdles, however WSM has moved on leaps and bounds from the days of being known solely as a TV Show.
What I love about IMG’s media business is that people appreciate an entrepreneurial spirit. Often people think of media rights being dry but actually we get to work with clients and map out innovative ways to create content and grow their reach. I find this super exciting and it’s what keeps me energized.
WSM is my passion project, but I truly love working on all my clients, LPGA, New York City Marathon, NFL and CrossFit. It’s fun to think about different sports and how to engage their audiences.
What advice would you give to women who want to enter the sports media industry?
Speak up for yourself. Make sure you have a presence and that your voice is heard. I think that goes for women in any industry.
You are your own best advocate. I’d say that to everyone, women or men. You have your own best interest at heart and you need to determine how you can align that with the interests of the business you are serving. Make sure you are using your voice and advocate for yourself and your clients.
Always raise your hand to new opportunities, such as working on a new property or pursuing a new platform. You never know what will come from it!
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Be comfortable making mistakes, you’re only going to learn from them.
Be upfront, take ownership and don’t try and get around anything. You’re just learning and that’s okay.
The mistakes you’re making are probably because you haven’t been given the information and you’re trying to take ownership and run with something. When you do that, you’re going to make mistakes, but learning and understanding why they happened will keep you moving forward.
I think one of the best pieces of advice someone gave me was try and meet everybody you can because you never know what will net out, when.
Quick fire questions…
What song do you have on repeat? The Best, Tina Tuner
What’s your favourite sporting event in the calendar? Can I have two, New York City Marathon (US) and Wimbledon (UK)
Favourite movie? First Wives Club