Abe Santos Takes Underscore Talent Outdoors with Expanded Lifestyle Talent Divison
Underscore Talent, a next-generation management company helping talent build long-lasting careers and businesses, recently hired Abe Santos, the previous Head of Partner Engagement at YouTube. Abe Santos will lead and expand the outdoor lifestyle talent division, which is an explosive niche filled with many opportunities. Today, he shares his take on the outdoor lifestyle niche, current trends in the outdoor space, and what brands are looking for from creators.
Recently, Underscore Talent hired Abe Santos as a Partner to lead and expand their outdoor lifestyle division. Underscore Talent is a next-generation management company that helps talent create long-lasting careers built on many revenue streams and platforms.
Who is Abe Santos?
Before Underscore Talent, Abe Santos worked at YouTube as the Head of Partner Engagement with some of the most notable stars on the platform, including Jeffree Star, Jake Paul, and Mike Malek.
He shares, “I was really helping them, educating them on policy, making sure that their content was good, helping them with any kind of issues, stuff like that. Through there, I started managing some of the top outdoor channels, which historically, in the past, YouTube had never really put a lot into the outdoor space.”
Abe Santos explains that when he started managing these outdoor creators, they began seeing excellent results with just a little extra support.
At Underscore Talent, Abe shares that he will lead and expand the outdoor lifestyle space division.
“The idea is to really take an underserved market, which is the outdoor lifestyle space, and I think that there’s a massive opportunity there… So, I think brands are starting to see this, and I think that creators are also starting to see that they are a lot more than just somebody that could do a title sponsor or sponsored ad.”
Abe Santos adds that he is excited to help creators and talents understand the many nuances of brand deals and help them partner with different brands, start their own businesses, merch brands, podcasts, and much more.
“I think their audiences are extremely loyal. We see really good conversion rates because of the audience being so loyal and it’s just a really good market to get into. It’s really just starting.”
Current Trends in the Outdoor Lifestyle Space
Abe Santos explains that the pandemic likely contributed to the outdoor lifestyle space’s explosion over the last few years.
“I think a lot more people started watching outdoor content for that connection, right? The emotional connection of somebody being outdoors and doing these different things and so I think a lot of the trends we’re seeing a lot of companies that are super interested and extremely willing to start teaming up with a lot of these outdoor companies.”
He adds that they’ve recently seen massive growth in the outdoor lifestyle space, with many creators starting extremely successful podcasts.
In addition, he compares the current trends in the outdoor lifestyle space to what we saw with family and gaming channels a few years ago. Brands are just starting to realize this niche’s potential, accelerating its rapid growth.
Opportunities for Creators
One of the biggest opportunities for creators currently, especially in exploding niches like the outdoor lifestyle space, is the opportunity to build their own brand.
“I think influencer marketing for them is really turning into more of a partnership marketing, where they’re starting to become partners and companies and starting to be the face of brands and stuff. That’s what’s super cool for me to see because a lot of these guys haven’t even really started doing brand deals, and now they’re creating their own products.”
Another big opportunity for creators right now is more and more brands looking for female talent in the outdoor space. Abe shares that female talent has been generally underserved, particularly in niches like the outdoor space.
“My team has really focused on trying to find these female talents that have a really good connection to their subscribers and that maybe aren’t getting the support they need, and we’ve seen really good growth with some of these female creators in the outdoor space, which has been super cool.”
Abe Santos adds that he is a dad to a teenage daughter, so seeing more females in this space receive major brand deals that men traditionally receive is amazing.
What Brands are Looking for Regarding Organic Collaborations
One of the most interesting aspects of the outdoor lifestyle space is the seasonality of the collaborations and content.
“One of the talents that we manage is a channel called CBoys, and they live in Minnesota, and I think the cool thing with them is during the summer, they’re out on the lake, they’re jet skiing, they’re boating, they’re doing motocross. But, when the winter comes and it’s all snow, and they’re doing snowmobiling and all these different things.”
Due to the seasonal and constantly changing nature of outdoor content, brands can easily integrate their products in a very organic, natural way.
“I think that they’ve [outdoor creators] really focused on this Gen Z audience that doesn’t watch TV and could care less about TV. I have two teenagers, and I don’t know the last time they watched TV, and so I think that they’ve really started taking advantage of this and with the brands.”
The Creator Marketplace
Abe Santos shares that one of the things he would like to see more creators starting is podcasts, which are doing very well currently.
“That’s one space where I think we’ll really continue to grow is that audio space of podcasts. I think the second thing is … doing collabs with companies, but making it more than just a brand collab, I think. I think what we’ll start seeing is a lot of these outdoor influencers really partnering with brands.”
Abe Santos adds, “Over the next couple of years, I think we’ll see a lot of growth in it and it’s super exciting because we’re seeing creators go from representing brands to creators that are their own brand.”
In addition, Abe shares that he feels most people don’t realize that outdoor extreme sport creators have the largest percentage of US demographics for their audience. Many niches have an average US audience of 50 to 60%, but Underscore Talent is seeing their outdoor creators with 70 to 80% US viewers.
“The other thing is we also have a pretty substantial range of fans that are watching in terms of age. You could have a kid that’s six years old watching…. [or] you could have somebody who’s in their forties or fifties or sixties that used to ride motocross that’s now watching them.”
As a result of the vast age range and high US audience, Abe notes that many of these creators have great opportunities for better product creation, brand partnerships, sales conversions, and much more.