Former NBC, ESPN Execs Launch the ‘Uber Black’ of Video Creation

A group of sports media veterans has launched a new company aimed at helping their peers navigate the rapidly changing world of video creation.

The company, known as toldright, will match freelance camera operators, producers, lighting designers and audio techs—the talent that drives content behind the scenes—with companies that need assistance on projects large and small.

“Think of us as Uber Black for content creation,” CEO and co-founder Max Heineman said in an interview. “We’ve taken a lot of talented people who have been thrust into the gig economy, and we’re connecting them with a whole new set of customers, which is corporate America.”

Toldright’s network currently has more than 1,500 people across roughly 40 different disciplines. They are either entirely freelance, or looking to grab additional jobs in their downtime or off-season. Heineman said the network includes people who have worked Super Bowls, Oscars and World Series, and some who have won Emmy awards.

Though the business began taking shape right before COVID-19 hit, it was accelerated by two seemingly contradictory truths about the pandemic. First, a lot of back-end video talent has been laid off or furloughed. Second, the creation of digital events and digital marketing has never been more necessary.

A former NBC Sports and Golf Channel executive, Heineman wants toldright’s network to backfill that demand. Most ad agencies, he said, aren’t equipped to handle day-to-day video demands, and it can cost more than $1 million for a company to build just some of those capabilities internally.

“That requires employee expenses and equipment expenses,” he said. “It’s a lot of overhead. One of NBC’s biggest expenses is the fact that every few years, its studios need to be re-outfitted.”

Toldright sources each job, connects the talent and handles deal specifics like contract work and insurance. The talent is then paid by toldright.

The leadership team includes co-founder Adam Hertzog, an Emmy winner who spent nearly 20 years with ESPN, and executive director Patrick McManus, another Emmy winner who has worked on American Ninja Warrior, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Senior vice president of content Jason Bernstein spent more than a decade on ESPN’s digital programming and acquisitions team.

The group is currently doing two main types of video. The first is virtual conferences, turning standard Zoom-style events into professionalized private TV shows (it recently did this for the Tiger Woods Foundation’s virtual Tiger Jam event). The second is packaged content such as sales videos, training libraries and digital marketing.

The group is also working on a few Super Bowl projects for this week, including a PSA featuring celebrity athletes for the International Justice Mission, and producing Wednesday’s NFLPA Pitch Day, a competition for women- and minority-led startups.

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