Pretty much as soon as Dan Le Batard was out the door at ESPN, we learned that he intended to partner up with another former ESPNer to form a new venture. Earlier this month reports dropped that Le Batard would be reuniting with executive John Skipper for a new media venture that eventually took shape, pointing to a progressive, liberal-leaning enterprise that would be something in the same vein as the conservative-focused Outkick. Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reported that Skipper was looking to bring on talents such as Jemele Hill, Bomani Jones, and Kate Fagan, with Hill confirming that she had discussions with him already.
The reality of this new venture is taking a bit more shape now that we know what it’s called: Meadowlark Media. Skipper discussed the particulars on the most recent episode of South Beach Sessions, the podcast feed Le Batard is using for the time being.
“I’ve been asked if this was a venture or an adventure and I believe it is, in fact, both,” Skipper said. “If we want to simply describe what we’re doing, we’re forming a company. That company’s going to be focused — at least initially — on sports content. That company is called Meadowlark. What we’re going to do across all genres of sports (is) try to create best-in-class content. Whether that be your radio show, the Le Batard & Friends podcast, Highly Questionable television show. Could be scripted and unscripted, reality or dramatic, or comedic episodic content. (It) could be documentaries, could be feature stories, could be books. We want wherever great stories are, we want to tell them in a multitude of genres.
“We are not, however, going to publish them on a platform that’s called Meadowlark. What we want to do is to sell them to third parties. In doing so, and in creating a pipeline of those projects, executing them, selling them, we want to become known as the supplier of choice. The standard-bearer for what it means to create sports content.”
One thing Skipper made clear is that Meadowlark is not going to be a platform that audiences will have to sign up at or download content from. Instead, the plan is to sell the content they create to other networks and third parties, making them more of a content supplier than an organization attempting to get a foothold in the highly competitive podcasting, TV, or media markets. Instead, Meadowlark content could be seeded across various media networks in need of fresh programming who are also open to whatever leanings that come with it.
As for how they intend to pay for this new venture, McCarthy and Front Office Sports are reporting that they are seeking $10–$15 million in initial financing. He noted that rather than find all their investment from one person or bank, they’re looking for multiple investors, which is more likely to allow them to have the creative freedom to do what they want, rather than answering to a specific money person. Their ideal situation would be much different to, say, the one Bill Simmons and The Ringer made with HBO a few years back.
“Skipper would rather have 10 investors chipping in a million dollars apiece — than one investor giving him $10 million,” a source told McCarthy.
The relationship between DAZN and Meadowlark is one that’s going to be under some scrutiny as Skipper remains Executive Chairman of DAZN while also launching the new venture. Meadowlark is expected to remain its own entity, separate from DAZN. However, DAZN parent company Access Industries is said to be supporting Meadowlark in the short-term while Le Batard and Skipper identify investors. McCarthy writes that it’s very possible DAZN could end up being one of those investors.
There is also some expected revenue to be generated from a pending deal for Le Batard’s radio show and podcast, which are now separate from ESPN. Companies such as Spotify, iHeartRadio, and SiriusXM are all expected to be in the mix. amongst others.