Tom Brady And Michael Strahan's Production Company Raises $50 Million
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Tom Brady and Michael Strahan are probably two of the most recognizable athletes in American sports history. But they are also building quite a legacy off the field.
Michael Strahan retired in 2007 after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants—a team he spent his entire 15-year NFL career with—and has immersed himself in media since, hosting shows like Fox NFL Pregame and Good Morning America.
And last year, he even brought his Super Bowl ring to space on a Blue Origin flight.
And we all know who Tom Brady is. He has won 7 Super Bowls (& counting), has a $375 million broadcasting contract with Fox waiting for him in retirement, and is the founder of several businesses, including Brady Brand, Autograph, TB12, and others.
But here’s the part you probably didn’t know: Tom Brady and Michael Strahan are also co-founders of a sports media production company called Religion of Sports.
They teamed up with filmmaker Gothan Chopra to start the business in 2017, and the company now has 50+ employees and recently raised $50 million in Series B funding.
Religion of Sports Funding History
Seed: $3 million
Series A: $10 million
Elysian Park Ventures, Courtside Ventures, LinkinFirm (founded by former tennis pro Marcio Torres), and Advancit Ventures
Series B: $50 million
Shamrock Capital, Elysian Park Ventures, and Cerro Capital
The valuation is currently unknown, but CEO Ameeth Sankaran told Axios that reports that a $50 million round would value the company at $100 million are "far low."
So what exactly does Religion of Sports do? Well, you’ve probably seen Man in the Arena on ESPN, right? That docuseries won an Emmy and was produced by Religion of Sports, along with several others like Tom vs Time, Shut Up and Dribble, and more.
The company derives 80-90% of its revenue from its core business of unscripted, documentary-style programming. This is where they team up with elite athletes—Tom Brady, Simone Biles, Draymond Green, and others—to create & distribute their stories across an array of streaming platforms, including Facebook, ESPN, and Apple TV+.
Religion of Sports (ROS) currently has 17 unscripted productions in place. Most of these are done through the traditional format, where ROS will work directly with a network or streaming service and get paid upfront. But ROS is also now investing more in a secondary model, where they put up their own capital and work directly with athletes and entrepreneurs to create and develop content before reaching out to a network or streaming service and striking a licensing deal or sale of the content.
But a business like this is particularly interesting to me for several reasons. First, the value of unscripted, documentary-style sports content has exploded over the last few years — streaming platforms are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and they use it as a way to attract new audiences outside of traditional entertainment.
And secondly, while capitalistic principles continue to create an oversaturated market for this style of content, I believe production companies with ultra-premium content and star power will always have an outsized advantage against their competitors.
Take LeBron James’ Springhill and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, for example. The former was recently valued at $725 million, and the latter is aggressively expanding through unscripted, scripted, and audio content with ESPN and others.
And Religion of Sports seems to be building and executing a similar strategy.
These types of businesses are super interesting, and the role they will play in the future of media is becoming more evident by the day. But while the breakdown above might provide some helpful context and clarity, it really just scratches the surface.
So if you want to learn more about how Religion of Sports operates today, a deeper dive on the industry in general, the specifics around how some of these deals are structured, or even just the company founding story, I recorded a podcast with ROS CEO Ameeth Sankaran that I think is excellent — but I’m not biased at all :)
I hope everyone has a great day. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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