Religion of Sports has seen a lot of growth over the past year and a half, from several key executive hires to new series and documentaries (including Man in the Arena with ROS co-founder Tom Brady). Now, they’ve announced a big intake of $50 million from a Series B funding round, a nice boost over the $10 million in Series A funding they received in July 2020. Key investors this time around are round leader Shamrock Capital, as well as Elysian Park Ventures and Cerro Capital, and founder Gotham Chopra (seen at left above) and CEO Ameeth Sankara (seen at right above) are a couple of the key figures commenting on this. Here’s more on this from a ROS release Monday:
…”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!”
…”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.”
…”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.
That release also spotlights some of ROS’ particular hopes for further expansion. It discusses Autograph, the NFT startup co-founded by Brady, which ROS has teamed with for merchandise from Man In The Arena and Simone Biles (who was featured in ROS series Simone vs. Herself last summer). It also mentions plans for “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.” And it signifies an attempt to go beyond sports, with lines like “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.”
Going beyond sports is perhaps the most notable thing here. Part of ROS’ success to date has been the way they’ve involved the athletes at the core of these stories, from founders like Brady to other athletes like Biles and Steph Curry. Other sports outlets have also been notable for their athlete involvement, from The Players’ Tribune through Uninterrupted (which has paired with ROS on some fronts, including Greatness Code) and I Am Athlete, but that’s been a big part of what’s worked for ROS. And that creator-involved model definitely could apply to projects in the realms of music and entertainment as well. We’ll see what ROS uses this extra funding for and how it goes, but it’s certainly notable to see them get this kind of money.
[PR Newswire; image supplied by Religion of Sports]