Sports Meet Hollywood: Production Companies Are Taking Over

So as you may know…

Hollywood writers & actors are on strike — which has put scripted programming on pause.

hollywood on strike

Do you know what that’s good for?

Sports (they’re live events).

This is especially positive for all of the new production companies.

Let’s Dive In 👇

Sports Production Firms Are Scaling

Over the last two years, we’ve seen “documentary-focused” sports production companies get active.

  • Omaha Productions, founded by Peyton Manning, raised $10 million in May from Peter Chernin’s The North Road Company at a $400M valuation.
  • Boardwalk Pictures, creators of “Last Chance U” and “Race: Bubba Wallace” on Netflix, sold a minority stake to Shamrock Capital in February.
  • Religion of Sports, co-founded by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, raised $50 million last June.
  • SpringHill, co-founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter sold a minority stake valuing it at $725 million in 2021.

And to be honest…

All of these firms were second movers behind UK-based Box to Box Films, which produced some of Netflix’s biggest sports hits.

box to box films

  • Full Swing (Golf)
  • Break Point (Tennis)
  • Drive to Survive (F1)
  • Make or Break (Surfing)

They are now looking to raise ~$30 million.

Box to Box Films

So who are these sports documentary visionaries?

Co-founded in 2016 by Paul Martin and James Gay-Rees, the duo saw an opportunity in streaming platforms looking for unique sports angles.

What they’ve accomplished is wild…

Not only have they inspired more streamers to consider sports docuseries, but they’ve fundamentally changed the popularity of several sports.

“Formula 1: Drive to Survive” led to sold-out races and record viewership in F1 events across the United States.

formula 1 drive to survive US popularity

The company is profitable and projecting roughly $11M in revenue this year.

What’s next for them?

  • Full Swing 2nd season.
  • Netflix series on the Tour de France.
  • Make or Break, surfing doc on Apple.
  • Formula 1: Drive to Survive 6th season.

And it looks like Box To Box sees the need to compete with the big boys (hence the capital raise).

NFL Enters The Documentary Game

The NFL is a storytelling machine (and once deemed “the most effective propaganda organ in the history of corporate America” by SI).

And they’re not new to doc-style media:

  • NFL Films started in 1964.
  • Hard Knocks debuted in 2001.
nfl films and hard knocks

The National Football League is looking to step it up even further.

They recently partnered with “Top Gun: Maverick” studio Skydance Media on a joint venture, with the goal of creating the world’s premier sports production house.

Skydance and the NFL will also produce a variety of other content:

  • lifestyle shows
  • foreign-language programming (to help with the NFL’s global push)

Expect to see some new “Hard Knocks of _____” in the near future.

Going Forward

Sports media is at an interesting intersection…

  • rise of streaming platforms
  • live events (TV) stay relevant
  • genZ’s interest in short-form content
  • increasing popularity of long-form documentaries

And never forget…

On the surface, the NFL is a football league. At its core, it’s a media company.

You can draw three conclusions from that:

  1. star players are the best actors on this planet
  2. all the best leagues in the world are media companies
  3. non-fiction (fact) is more interesting than fiction

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