The beginning of Summer is a golden time for fans of major sports. We are gearing up for the NBA and NHL Stanley Cup finals, scrutinizing the results of the NFL draft, and intently watching MLB to see if the looser-wound, lighter-weight baseballs continue to keep home run totals down as we head towards the All-Star break. At the same time, investments across the sports spectrum are happening at an unprecedented pace, from startups to major teams and leagues.
Here are a few things that caught our eye:
New digital media platforms for a new generation
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for my weekly copy of Sports Illustrated to arrive. Today, there is no more waiting by the mailbox.
- Overtime raised $80 million to continue distributing original sports content across social media outlets. Even cooler, they announced a paid basketball league for players 16-18 years old…a long way from working a paper route!
- PlayOn! Sports, the leader in streaming high school sports, continues to raise capital. Business trips no longer have to get in the way of missing your kids’ games.
Athletes becoming PE titans
We want to be like them, yet somehow, they want to be like us.
- Lebron James has become a partner in Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox. One of my favorite basketball players now owns a piece of my least favorite team. Say it ain’t so, King James!
- Not to be outdone, LBJ’s buddy Dwayne Wade bought a piece of the Utah Jazz.
Collectibles are hot, any way you can get them
Whether physical or virtual, fans are eager to own something deemed to be unique.
- Dapper Labs, owner of NBA Top Shots, raised $305 million of venture funding, putting the company’s pre-money valuation at $2.6 billion. Don’t ask me to explain why owning one of 35,000 identical versions of a highlight clip that you could consume for free on YouTube counts as a rare collectible.
- Loupe, a sports card collecting app, just raised a $12 million Series A. Loupe’s customers buy and sell cards via live streaming auctions, like a virtual Sotheby’s for trading cards.
Clearly someone is going to knock it out of the park with their sports investments this year.