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How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

The Story Behind a Basketball Newsletter’s Rapid Growth With beehiiv

In his sophomore year of high school, Michael Jordan measured 5 foot 11 inches.

The average height of an NBA basketball player is about 6 feet 6 inches. His chances weren’t looking so good to become an all-star, let alone make it onto an NBA roster.

Then, come junior year, he grew a whopping four inches to 6 feet 3. By the time he finished college, he was 6 foot 6 inches.

When Jordan tapped into rapid growth, his career took off.

The same can be said for anyone starting a newsletter

While they may not be dunking on the likes of Draymond Green or Anthony Davis anytime soon, Cole and Cody Hock would attribute a major part of their newsletter success to their rapid growth.

One year after launching on beehiiv in 2022, the Enjoy Basketball newsletter has grown to over 45,000 subscribers.

In this beehiiv case study, we interviewed Cody and Cole Hock, co-founders of the Enjoy Basketball newsletter along with Kenny Beecham, and explored the reasons why they launched on beehiiv, how they grew their list to five figures in a single day, and what makes their 3x weekly newsletter a hit among Millennials and Gen-Zs.

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

In Cody’s view, “I think the speed at which the beehiiv team is able to execute and add on new features and products to the platform has been amazing for us.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Enjoy Basketball: An Overview

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Enjoy Basketball is a newsletter taking a unique approach to basketball media — cutting out the negativity and instead focusing on the good of the game, with a targeted approach towards the younger generations.

According to the Enjoy Basketball e-commerce site, “Enjoy Basketball is a positive-first media & lifestyle brand for fans who just want to enjoy the game of basketball. People are tired of the hot takes and negative sports culture, so we uplift the game through our content & community.”

Cole Hock shared, “I'm one of the co-founders of Enjoy Basketball alongside Cody Hock & Kenny Beecham. We have a newsletter titled Enjoy Basketball which breaks down everything that you need to know about the NBA and the basketball world in a digestible way, with a focus on a Gen Z and Millennial audience.”

Cody added on, “We break down everything going on in the world of basketball in a simple form.”

The third piece of the Enjoy Basketball puzzle is Kenny Beecham — one of the leading basketball thought leaders in the world. He has over 2 million followers between YouTube and Twitter. Kenny blew up on social media because of his fresh, in-depth NBA analysis. His twitter goes viral every day during playoffs and his YouTube videos commonly get upwards of half a million views.

Together, Cody, Cole, and Kenny launched their basketball newsletter with the simple goal of growing a community of folks who can get excited about basketball for the amazing sport that it is.

The Backstory

Enjoy Basketball isn’t just a newsletter. It’s a brand and community catered to people who want to uplift the game. The newsletter is written in a friendly tone, similar to how your best friend would describe the previous night's games or general basketball news. They launched the newsletter in late March 2022, ahead of the NBA playoffs.

They shared, “We cover basketball without clickbait, hot takes, or tearing someone apart. We love basketball and cover all aspects of the sport in a fun, positive way, including memes, gifs, and fun takes.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Cody and Cole have a background in talent management as the co-founders of UP NORTH Management. They know the ins and outs of dealing with creators and managing relationships with brands. But, before they started Enjoy Basketball, they had never written a single newsletter ever.

Cole shared, “We were brand new to the newsletter space. It's an area we've never done anything in. We come from a talent management background, so this is a brand-new space for us. Very luckily before we launched, we heard about beehiiv through a couple of mutual friends and I think on Twitter as well.”

While hearing the buzz about beehiiv online got their attention, it wasn’t until they started looking into the user-friendly features that they became serious about the platform.

“Fortunately, we were able to get set up extremely quickly on it. beehiiv is very user-friendly. So, for both of us, coming from no experience at all, it was kind of a breeze to set up and have our newsletter ready to launch within a few weeks.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Cody shared how beehiiv wasn’t the only newsletter software they had heard of.

“We were familiar with some of the other platforms. We didn't anticipate starting a newsletter in the beginning. It was a new avenue for us. We saw an opportunity to capitalize on an untapped market within sports — and basketball, specifically. Then, it was a no-brainer for us to launch on beehiiv when we did.”

Why They Started a Newsletter

While there are a dozen different ways to become a digital creator or a thousand ways to start a business today, the question is, why a newsletter?

Here’s what the brothers had to say.

“We wanted to add an additional layer to serve Kenny’s already hyper-engaged community. We also understand the potential of creator-led businesses as well as the importance of owning your audience.”

One key factor that sets newsletters apart from every other major online medium is the fact that you own your audience and your reach isn’t determined by an algorithm that can and does change throughout the year. When you hit send, your message is delivered directly to your audience.

They continued, “In contrast to Kenny's other social channels, we're not at the mercy of a changing algorithm, the lowering of reach on a whim, or even worse, a platform shutting down.”

The potential for a newsletter in today’s day and age wasn’t the only opportunity gap they saw. The brothers also saw there was a gap in the market in their space: basketball news for the 20-30-year-olds.

They shared, “A whitespace also exists - we thought that having a weekly newsletter hitting email was different; namely, many sports media companies are not targeting Gen-Z and Millennial audiences' inboxes (and if they are, they don't have the greatest open or engagement rate). We've had numerous people directly reply to the newsletter email letting us know how much they're enjoying it. They’re providing feedback and suggestions, which is very helpful for us moving forward.”

How Enjoy Basketball Monetizes Its Newsletter

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Enjoy Basketball monetizes its newsletter in two ways: advertising and e-commerce.

Cody shared, “So far, we haven't gone so into the weeds on just bringing on a lot of sponsors. We just wanted to establish our sort of floor and get into a nice groove. But we actually have an advantage, I would say, in the sense that Cole and I are dealing with brands all day, on the management side, for creators.”

Thanks to their background in talent management, they know how to create relationships and partnerships between brands and creators which has helped them a ton. This has led to newsletter partnerships with the NBA, Shopify, Peacock/NBCUniversal, PrizePicks, and more.

“We're able to tap into those relationships and onboard partners that make sense. We're in sports, so a lot of advertisers that we're looking for are endemic to sports or they're tangential. So [consumer packaged goods] CPG or commercial products related to consumers is where we like to focus on. That's the majority of the revenue coming in on the ad side of things.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Cody also shared how they’ve launched an e-commerce apparel brand by the same name, Enjoy Basketball, that drives revenue for the brand.Their recent collaboration with The ICEE Company featured custom branded shirts, hoodies, basketballs and collector’s cups, which all sold out in under 5 hours.

“We're really trying to build the strongest and best community for people that enjoy basketball. So we have apparel products and other sorts of social media assets that we're selling across in addition to monetizing the newsletter itself.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Challenge: Find a Newsletter Platform that’s Easy to Take Off From

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Before launching on beehiiv, Cole and Cody’s primary challenge was making sure they could find a platform that made it easy to get started. They didn’t have any experience with newsletters before, so they knew they needed a solution that could help them get started without technical knowledge.

Cody shared, “For us, it’s just beehiiv’s ease of features. Being so naive to the newsletter space in general, we didn't really have a clue on how to get anything set up.”

We asked the brothers what finally made them take the plunge into beehiiv. Their answer? beehiiv’s executive team.

Cole shared, “I think a number of factors made beehiiv stand out. After reading about Tyler Denk’s (CEO of beehiiv) background, and where it came from at Morning Brew, our newsletter model — we take inspiration from the Morning Brew newsletters of the world. So that was a key thing to see and what was a huge factor in leading us towards using beehiiv.”

Cody continued on Cole’s point and also mentioned how the testimonials of successful newsletters diving in also piqued his curiosity.

He shared, “I just think reading a lot about Tyler Denk’s background and hearing other testimonials on different newsletters in the space jumping on board with beehiiv. A lot of people on Twitter were talking about it. We have a good relationship with Lit from the Exec Sum newsletter, who highly recommended it. Once we started talking to Tyler and getting into the nitty gritty of it, we saw how easy it is to use. We were able to quickly get acclimated to the processes and templates and we have every analytics tool imaginable. We really see our growth potential on this platform.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Cody was transparent about how they didn’t know much about the newsletter industry before they got started.

“We were so naive when it came to the newsletter space in general. It wasn't like we had ten different options to choose from. We were between two or three options and we had to pull the trigger on one. I just think doing our due diligence and understanding Tyler’s (and the team's) background and a rough understanding of the roadmap, with what we could find online in articles just made us a lot more comfortable with where the platform was headed.”

Once they launched on beehiiv, they knew they made the right choice.

“The second we got on the platform, seeing the continual updates from the beehiiv newsletter… They’re just consistently shipping products that are applicable and allow us to grow our presence. It’s just been incredibly impactful for us thus far.”

Why Listen to Me? I’ve managed two ecommerce email newsletters over the years including one with 100,000 subscribers and one with 30,000. I currently run a sports digital media business, Hockey Question, that gets over 50,000 visits per month.

Results With beehiiv

Since launching on beehiiv in 2022, Enjoy Basketball has seen some impressive results. In just one year, they’ve amassed a readership of over 45,000 subscribers.

Cody shared, “We've seen explosive results. To be honest with you, we told Tyler Denk, right before we launched, that we were confident we would hit 10,000 subscribers in the first day. Within 24 hours we did that. We've seen a lot of growth from 10,000 to just over 45,000 subscribers at this point. And most of our growth has been during the NBA off-season when there wasn’t a lot of news. There weren’t a lot of games going on.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year


But, that’s not all. The newsletter is also crushing it when it comes to other crucial engagement metrics open rates and click-through rates.

Cody shared, “We've been really happy with the growth and the consistent engagement on our open rate and our click-through rate so far.

Enjoying this case study? Learn how Jack Raines of Young Money accelerated his newsletter from 2,000 to 35,000 subscribers in one year after switching to beehiiv. Read the full case study here.

Favorite beehiiv Features

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

beehiiv’s 3D Analytics

One of the main reasons the brothers launched their newsletter on beehiiv is the 3D analytics that allows them to make data-driven decisions for their strategy.

Cody shared, “For me personally, I think subscriber analytics, and just going in and understanding where our audience is, where community members are, the sources of traffic — it’s really important for us.”

beehiiv lets you see exactly where your subscribers are coming from regarding the traffic sources so you can see what’s working to double down on your efforts.

Cody commented, “Just seeing where we're getting new subscribers from — whether it's Twitter or implementing the strategy that we've been using with Reddit for our online angle. We're using our co-founder, Kenny Beecham's, audience and distribution to capture a lot of our new subscribers. To be able to see where the traffic source is coming from has been really crucial for us to figure out what our strategy is to gain and increase followers.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

beehiiv’s Growth-Friendly Pricing

Another beehiiv feature that got their attention early on was that they could launch with a pricing model that would allow them to scale. beehiiv charges newsletter creators a flat monthly fee so they can invest their money fully into growth.

Cody shared, “I think what attracted us to beehiiv in the first place was obviously word of mouth and seeing a bunch of things on the internet. And, it’s very creator-friendly. Unlike some other platforms like Substack, where they're taking a percentage of revenue, this is a flat fee model on a monthly basis. We were like, ‘Okay, we can see the upside as we continue to grow our following, where we're not beholden to a platform taking that percentage as we continue to grow.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Once they saw that they wouldn’t be squeezed out of excess profit with the pricing model, they knew they were in, so they went for the top package, Scale.

Cody continued, “When it comes to the return on investment of beehiiv, Cody shared, “I think it's kind of a no-brainer. We started our newsletter and went to the highest tier on beehiiv right away just because we wanted to implement our referral program. I don't even think about the price of beehiiv to be honest.”

beehiiv’s Team

Like many other early beehiiv adopters, a turning point in the decision-making came down to the executive team and the support beehiiv offers.

Cody shared, “Whenever we have questions about where the platform's going or our newsletter in particular, someone on the beehiiv team is always responsive. They're always willing to give us some time to talk it through. We're fairly naive when it comes to the backend analytical side of websites and optimization for email. The beehiiv team has been super helpful to us.”

Cole also had a lot to say about the support they’ve experienced since joining beehiiv.

He shared, “I think the support has been really great. We've had support from a lot of team members on the beehiiv side. But also Tyler Denk himself. I feel like it's very rare that the founder of a company sometimes jumps in and offers help, advice, tips, and whatnot.

Tyler's done that a number of times, especially when we first started out. And that really helped us get all set up at the very beginning. I would say the customer support has been outstanding.”

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year


Cody shared how the support was just one aspect of the team’s ability to win them over. The other side was just how quickly the team has created improvements in the product including a suite of growth features.

He shared, “beehiiv is a platform that enables anyone to start their own newsletter. There's a slew of features that allow you to optimize and grow, and tap into your audience. The team is consistently shipping products at a very rapid pace. So there's always new features that are being made for writers, business folks, and operations who are trying to grow their online presence through a newsletter. The ability to ship products fast and all the new features that come out on a weekly basis. It's almost hard for us to keep up with that (in a good way).”


How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

One year ago, Cole, Cody, and Kenny were looking to launch their own newsletter in the basketball space for Gen Zs and Millennials. So, they decided to launch on beehiiv.

With over 45,000 subscribers, X% open rates, and upwards of X% click-through rates, they have one of the fastest-growing sports newsletters today.

Looking forward, the brothers plan to double down on growth even more by leveraging beehiiv’s growth features.

How a Gen-Z Basketball Newsletter Grew to 45,000 Subscribers in 1 Year

Cody shared, “Over the next year, we're looking to go into hypergrowth on our newsletter, utilizing a number of features on beehiiv, including the referral program, which we haven't tapped into yet. We've grown organically using our own distribution for the first five or six months. I think our favorite beehiiv feature will be the referral program once we turn it on. We just haven't done it yet.”

While they’ve primarily targeted Gen-Zs and Millenials with their newsletter from the start, they plan on widening their reach in the coming months.

Cody continued, “We’re going to be continually pushing to try and capture the largest audience. It’s for Gen Z, Millennials, and everyone else that has limited time to follow the world of basketball and needs to be updated on a weekly basis on basketball news.”

When asked what Cole and Cody would say to a friend considering beehiiv, Cody shared, “If you’re trying to grow your newsletter in a creator-friendly way, and trying to build a business around the newsletter itself, beehiiv is a fantastic option to do that. The number of features, and the team behind it — I personally couldn't recommend using the platform more.”

Are you looking to accelerate your newsletter’s growth? Or, maybe you’re thinking of starting your own newsletter but need a helping hand to get started?

beehiiv is the newsletter platform built for growth. Created by the same team who built and scaled the Morning Brew to millions of subscribers, we’ll help you create a profitable, growth-centred newsletter in no time.

If you’re interested in tapping into growth like the team from Enjoy Basketball, then get started on beehiiv today for free.

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