|Born||April 16, 1994|
|Residence||New York City, New York, US|
|Alma mater||University of Central Florida|
|Occupation||Founder, House of Highlights|
|Known for||House of Highlights on Instagram|
|House of Highlights|
|Home town||Pembroke Pines, Florida, US|
Omar Raja (born April 16, 1994) is the founder of House of Highlights, an Instagram account where he packages and presents video clips related to professional athletes and sports fans. After being acquired by Bleacher Report in December 2015, House of Highlights has expanded its video content and scope, and has amassed over 10 million followers.
Raja was born to Hayder and Ismat Raja, who emigrated from Pakistan to the United States in the late 1990s. His only sibling is his little sister, Sabeen Raja. He grew up in Pembroke Pines, Florida and graduated from West Broward High School. In an interview with Esquire, Raja said that he was not good at playing sports, but was interested in following sports, and of the sports activities he did do such as basketball, he got to develop his abilities to see opportunities quickly. He attended University of Central Florida where he majored in business.
In July 2014, when Raja was a 20-year-old college sophomore, when NBA star LeBron James left the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Raja wanted to find videos on YouTube or ESPN to relive and to share memorable moments of the team with friends. After about a month of searching, he decided he needed to do it himself. He started an Instagram account in August called The Highlight Factory, but changed the name to House Of Highlights about a week later. He would collect video footage of the Heat players both on and off the court, and post highlight clips, many of which had not been widely circulated. His posts were often accompanied with brief messages and emojis. Posts were user-generated, either by himself or by other followers submitting them for consideration. Raja estimates about 53% of his audience is under the age of 24.
In July 2015, Doug Bernstein, the vice-president of social media at Bleacher Report, contacted Raja about working together. Raja had about half a million followers on Instagram at the time. Bleacher Report acquired House of Highlights in December, and hired Raja after he graduated. In January 2016, the Instagram account had 2.1 million followers, and in March 2017, it had over 5 million followers. Dave Finocchio, the CEO of Bleacher Report, likens Raja to the modern or young person's SportsCenter, and it was also noted by the website Crowd Tangle that the account has one of the highest interaction rates (number of users who comment or like). Bernstein said that for the month of November 2017, House of Highlights had 102 million interactions, the eighth-most for Instagram. In July 2018, the account had over 10 million followers. In October 2018, Esquire reported that House of Highlights would get about 700 million video views a month during the NBA season, with 10,000 new followers daily.
Under Bleacher Report, House of Highlights has gathered sponsors and expanded its content. The first sponsor was Lexus in 2016, where he produced about 7-10 videos highlighting some of the user-submitted content. He also created content for Nike, Jordan Brand, and Adidas. He produced a set of videos for Under Armour's "The Curry Challenge" where he posted clips of ordinary people trying to imitate Stephen Curry's moves.
Other challenges that House of Highlights is said to have popularized include the Running Man Challenge; and the Drive By Dunk Challenge, the latter of which people would drive in neighborhoods looking for basketball hoops, rush in with a basketball, and do a dunk. In 2017, Raja posted clips of Carmelo Anthony wearing a hoodie, which soon became a meme with the nickname "Hoodie Melo", which expanded to a clothing brand.
In January 2018, Bleacher Report launched a video show for House of Highlights on YouTube. The YouTube channel also features a sketch comedy web series called Supreme Dreams Show featuring YouTuber star Mark Phillips. In October, they launched a monthly Twitter digital television show co-hosted by Raja and creative director / head writer CJ Toledano with athletes and entertainers as guests.
As a Muslim, Raja abstained from smoking and alcohol despite attending many sports outings and events in college where drinking was commonplace. He lives in Midtown of New York City. When he is not working, he will sometimes go on long walks in the city.
- Duncan, Byard (October 22, 2018). "Who Is Omar? How the 24-Year-Old Founder of @HouseOfHighlights Flipped Sports Media on Its Head". Esquire. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Fast Company articles:
- Weissman, Cale Guthrie (February 2, 2018). "Bleacher Report's Secret Weapon Is A 23-Year-Old Instagram Savant". Fast Company. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Weissman, Cale Guthrie (July 30, 2018). "House of Highlights hits 10M followers. What's next for the Instagram powerhouse?". Fast Company. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Resetar, Max (November 28, 2017). "'Gram Game Proper". Slam. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Sangal, Aditi (February 14, 2018). "House of Highlights' Omar Raja: 'Instagram is the young person's television'". Digiday. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Sarconi, Paul (March 16, 2017). "Why Instagram is suddenly the place for sports highlights". Wired. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Lemire, Joe (July 30, 2018). "The Inside Story of How House of Highlights Scored 10 Million Instagram Followers". Sport Techie. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Burns, Mark J. (June 2, 2018). "Professional Conference Call: Omar Raja, Founder, House Of Highlights". Sports Business Chronicle. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- "House of Highlights' Omar Raja gets clips from All Stars — and doesn't always use them". Innovate by Hashtag Sports. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Weiner, Natalie (May 18, 2016). "15 Most Popular #RunningManChallenge Videos: The Instagram Clips That Got 'My Boo' Back on the Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Gartland, Dan (July 20, 2017). "What is the drive-by dunk challenge?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- "Twitter Deepens Sports Content With ESPN". Sport Techie. May 1, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- Patel, Sahil (March 27, 2018). "How Bleacher Report is turning House of Highlights into a business". Digiday. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Feldman, Jacob (October 24, 2018). "Bleacher Report's House of Highlights Looks to Expand with Twitter Talk Show". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Recode article and transcript:
- Johnson, Eric (July 13, 2018). "Instagram star Omar Raja was feeling burnt out ... until Kobe Bryant gave him a pep talk". Recode. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- "Full transcript: Omar Raja of House of Highlights on Too Embarrassed to Ask". Recode. July 18, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- Haque, Abid (September 26, 2018). "House of Highlights Founder Omar Raja Shoots Hoops at Work and Has a Thing for Grilled Chicken". Bon Appetit. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
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