Religion of Sports Raises $50M to Become a Studio of the Future with Accelerated Leadership in Storytelling and Investment in New IP and Content Expansion
Award-winning Media Company Scales with Series B Raise to Increase Differentiation Through Expanded Content Platforms, Introduce New Categories, and Increase Global Presence & Distribution
LOS ANGELES, June 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Religion of Sports, the award-winning sports media production company, has raised $50 million in a Series B fundraising round with the intent to develop new ownable content IP, further scale its substantial creator network, and increase global strategic partnerships. Already one of the most prolific, premium content studios, the Emmy Award-winning company's funding round is led by Shamrock Capital, with support from Elysian Park Ventures and Cerro Capital.
Following a momentous year of growth in athlete storytelling, Religion of Sports has rapidly evolved into much more than just a content creation company. The new capital will allow Religion of Sports to provide additional value to consumers by capitalizing on the gap in the marketplace around premium IP, and to further differentiate from relative offerings with the inclusion of a top-tier non-fiction studio arm and expansion into new formats, categories, genres, and markets globally. The expansion will also include ventures into non-sports territory, as well as production projects in the realms of entertainment, business and music, seeking to build out the best creator network in the industry.
"Religion of Sports has grown at a pace we could have only dreamed about five years ago," said Tom Brady. "We have some of the most talented people in the industry, who share the same passion for sports storytelling that has an impact on culture and audiences around the world. I am so honored and proud to be part of this team who continue to find ways to push the envelope and rewrite the traditional approach to thought-provoking , meaningful and entertaining content. I look forward to what the future holds for us at Religion of Sports as we continue to expand our slate and pursue more collaborative projects with new partners."
"The possibilities of content are continuing to grow at Religion of Sports, and I am proud to have been here from the beginning," said Michael Strahan. "The team remains committed to raising the standard of non-fiction storytelling in not just sports but also beyond, and I can't wait to welcome new formats, partners and audiences into our world. From athletes to trailblazers, to important societal themes and world events, there are such incredible and emotional stories to be told and I look forward to jointly developing and introducing groundbreaking work with this team. Evolution and diversity are key, and we're just getting started!"
Religion of Sports recently expanded into the NFT marketplace through a partnership with Autograph to release one-of-a-kind digital collectibles with Simone Biles, and also with ESPN's "Man In The Arena: Tom Brady" series. These projects represent the natural extension of premium content into new verticals that Religion of Sports will continue to pursue.
"We've seen a growing demand for sports storytelling across media avenues, a demand that Religion of Sports continues to meet, but we're ready and eager to expand into new territories and solidify ourselves as an all-encompassing media powerhouse," said Ameeth Sankaran, CEO, Religion of Sports. "We are excited to expand our mission on a larger scale while enabling our talent partners to tell more expansive versions of their story."
"As longtime investors in media and entertainment, the concept of great storytelling is often central to our investments," said Mike LaSalle, Partner, Shamrock Capital. "We believe Religion of Sports is a master at crafting narratives about some of the most relevant and universal subject matters today – resilience, competition, mental health and the pursuit of greatness. We couldn't be more excited for the future of Religion of Sports as it continues to expand its storytelling scope across diversified, premium content."
Religion of Sports gained recognition for its work in partnership with prominent athletes to tell stories that matter, most recently producing two-time Emmy nominated "Man In The Arena: Tom Brady" with ESPN, Emmy nominated "Simone vs. Herself" with Facebook Watch, and Emmy Award-winning "Greatness Code," which recently premiered its second season on Apple TV+, featuring Russell Wilson, Lindsey Vonn, Bubba Wallace, Leticia Bufoni, Scout Bassett, and Marcus Rashford. In addition, two Religion of Sports podcasts, "Crushed" and "False Idol", received Ambies nominations, with "False Idol" also winning a gold medal for sports podcasts at the New York Festivals Radio Awards. The company will continue to expand their content slate with upcoming projects including a flagship interview series podcast called "In the Moment", untitled projects with Showtime, Netflix, Skydance Sports, a documentary produced by Chris Pratt featuring two-time Olympic wrestler Helen Maroulis, another documentary about Wilt Chamberlain with Village Roadshow Television executive produced by Happy Madison and Kevin Garnett, projects with Trevor Noah, Draymond Green, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, and many more. Later this year, Religion of Sports will also launch a wellness content brand centered around peak performance.
"For me, Religion of Sports was never about a business plan or a market strategy - it was about exploring an idea that was deeply personal to me: why sports matter. Because no matter where you go in the world - from the biggest cities to the most rural villages - people are obsessed with sports. Early on, I became an evangelist and I recruited whomever I met into my cult - notably my two co-founders Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Over the years, we've had the privilege of producing many stories, some with athletes themselves, others around the fans and the games themselves, that are anchored in that same core idea - sports matter. Most importantly, countless other talented creators have become a part of our community and taught me so much - not just in the non-scripted space, but also audio, scripted, social and more. Now with Shamrock aboard, we're poised for even more growth and fun. And I couldn't be more excited about the future of the ROS faith," said Gotham Chopra.
Earlier this year, Religion of Sports announced plans to develop, finance, and produce a slate of sports-related content for multiple platforms, with projects across scripted television, documentary, and audio including the first scripted project called, "The Owl", a rags-to-riches story about an orphaned Mexican-American boxer. The recent investment from Shamrock Capital will be used to fund these and other growth initiatives as Religion of Sports scales into a leading media company and content platform.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as legal advisor to Shamrock Capital on the transaction.
About Religion of Sports
Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Religion of Sports is an award-winning media company founded by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, and Gotham Chopra. To believe in the power of sports is to experience religion, and the company's work is defined by thoughtful, elevated stories that explore a range of themes and uncover why sports matter. Through scripted and unscripted video, podcasts, feature films and social content Religion of Sports distills the spirituality, science and humanity that unites elite performers and people of all kinds. Since its inception, the company has built an impressive array of work in collaboration with the world's most elite athletes, distributed across big- and small-screens for digital broadcast/streaming platforms Facebook Watch, Apple TV+, ESPN, Showtime, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and many more. "Tom vs Time", "Greatness Code", and "Man in the Arena" went on to win Sports Emmy awards.
In 2021, Religion of Sports experienced a banner year, having grown the company exponentially and expanding its production capabilities. In addition, three highly anticipated documentary projects were launched back-to-back in the 3rd and 4th Quarters of 2021, featuring Simone Biles ("Simone vs. Herself"), Russell Westbrook ("Passion Play") and Tom Brady ("Man In The Arena"). On the audio front, the company produced a companion podcast to run alongside the "Man In The Arena" docuseries, and debuted three original, investigative podcasts - "Lost in Sports", "Crushed", and "False Idol" – the latter two of which were Ambies-nominated for 2022 Best Sports Podcast.
Through the lens of sport, Religion of Sports tells stories that make believers. More at https://religionofsports.com.